Words don’t cover Power’s desire to win an Indy 500 for Penske

Photo: IndyCar
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MOORESVILLE, North Carolina – Will Power doesn’t need pep talks from Roger Penske about how much winning the Indianapolis 500 means to Team Penske.

Words would fail anyway in conveying the passion that Power has seen from his normally reserved car owner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“He just loves that race,” Power said during a recent tour of team headquarters. “He’s not like that with any other race.

“His reaction when he’s on the pit stand. You can see the emotions when one of his cars passes for the lead. He was brought there as a little kid for his first introduction to racing.”

While Penske has missed only a handful of Indy 500s since attending his first as a 14-year-old in 1951, Power’s history at the Brickyard is much shorter. The Australian will be making his ninth start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and he has been showing promise of a breakthrough.

Last year, he finished second to teammate Juan Pablo Montoya and led a career-best 23 laps – the third straight Indy 500 he’d been in first. Power, 35, also has made eight consecutive starts in the top 10 at Indy, including sixth for this Sunday’s race.

It’s no wonder that in this momentous year – the 50th season for Team Penske and the 100th running of the Indy 500 – Power has allowed himself to dream about drinking milk.

“This one for Roger … ” Power said, pausing as if he briefly were overcome with giddiness. “God, I hope I’m the one (to win). It would be huge for him, absolutely.”

But it also would be significant for the 2014 IndyCar champion, who has come to appreciate the race’s magnitude.

“I’ve won the championship, a lot of races, (and) this is the box you tick,” he said. “You feel really happy if you win it. It’d be something you’d never forget, honestly.”

Which is why his team owner, who already has a record 16 Indy 500 wins, lets the scene speak for itself rather than deliver stirring speeches about what another victory there would mean.

“It’s not necessary,” Power said. “The amount of work and effort put in, everyone understands.

“Believe me, if you win it, you’ve got a job for life.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III