Power flies to Mid-Ohio pole (VIDEO)

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – The stage is set for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 (3 p.m. ET, CNBC) from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the top seven in points starting in the top seven positions, with fifth-placed Will Power on the pole position.

It’s the fifth pole of the season for the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, having lapped the 2.258-mile track in 1:04.1720. The pole is his 49th of his career, tied for fourth all-time with Bobby Unser.

Power surprisingly has not won at Mid-Ohio and at a 64-point gap to the lead (423-359), could use his first one Sunday to keep his title hopes alive.

Josef Newgarden rolls off second in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, clocking in at 1:04.3067, for his first front row start this year.

Takuma Sato was an impressive third in the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport, with Graham Rahal fourth in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda, and Helio Castroneves fifth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Points leader Scott Dixon again made the Firestone Fast Six, continuing his run of making every one this season, and will roll off from sixth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda as he seeks his sixth win at Mid-Ohio.

In Q1, Group 1, Pagenaud led at 1:04.3597 while Takuma Sato, Castroneves, Esteban Gutierrez, James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly made it into Q2. This marks the first time Gutierrez and Daly have made Q2 this season; Daly’s best start this year is 10th at Detroit race two, but that was an alternative qualifying format rather than the traditional knockout stages.

Tony Kanaan caused a local yellow that affected another car (Hinchcliffe) and would lose his fastest lap as a result.

Kanaan’s teammate Charlie Kimball, rookie Ed Jones and JR Hildebrand were also knocked out, Kimball the closest to advancing as his 1:04.9930 lap was only 0.03 off Daly’s best time.

Rahal topped Group 2 at 1:04.1938, the track having gotten a little bit faster, ahead of Newgarden, Power, Rossi, Dixon and Hunter-Reay in a stacked group.

Not even four tenths off Rahal, Marco Andretti was first to miss out in this group at 1:04.5929, a little over a tenth behind Hunter-Reay, while Spencer Pigot, Max Chilton, Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin were also eliminated.

The race to make the Firestone Fast Six out of Q2 was even tighter. Just 0.1732 of a second separated the Fast Six, which included six of the top seven in points. Rahal led at 1:04.0828 ahead of Sato (1:04.1847), Newgarden (1:04.1920), Power (1:04.2505), Castroneves (1:05.2536) and Dixon (1:05.2560); Dixon maintains his run as the only driver to make the Fast Six every race this year.

Knocked out were Pagenaud, Hinchcliffe, Rossi, Hunter-Reay, Daly and Gutierrez. Just two tenths separated Dixon in sixth from Hunter-Reay in this group.

Power then dominated in the Fast Six qualifying session, and was never headed en route to the pole.

The provisional grid is below.

RESULTS

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Qualifying Saturday for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:04.1720 (126.672)
2. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:04.3067 (126.407)
3. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:04.6792 (125.679)
4. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:04.7959 (125.452)
5. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:04.8485 (125.351)
6. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:05.1927 (124.689)
7. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:04.3008 (126.418)
8. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:04.3784 (126.266)
9. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:04.4906 (126.046)
10. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:04.4928 (126.042)
11. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:04.8745 (125.300)
12. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 01:05.0368 (124.988)
13. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 01:04.9930 (125.072)
14. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:04.5929 (125.847)
15. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:05.0337 (124.994)
16. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:04.6186 (125.797)
17. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 01:05.3200 (124.446)
18. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 01:04.8603 (125.328)
19. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:05.3382 (124.411)
20. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 01:04.9440 (125.166)
21. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:05.2441 (124.591)

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.