Photo: IndyCar

IndyCar: Power on pole as Penske sweeps the front row at Portland

Leave a comment

Will Power soared to the 54th pole of his Verizon IndyCar Series career during qualifying for Sunday’s Portland Grand Prix (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Power’s best lap in the Firestone Fast Six came in at 57.3467 seconds, bettering Justin Wilson’s old track record (57.597 seconds) by over two tenths of a second.

Power’s Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden made it a Penske front row lock-out by qualifying second, though his lap – a 57.6877 – was over three tenths of a second behind Power.

Power’s 54th pole put him clear of A.J. Foyt on the all-time list, putting second behind Mario Andretti, who has 67.

“Yeah, I mean, obviously to be up with names like Foyt, pretty special, humbling,” Power said in the post-qualifying press conference. “I need to catch Mario now. I don’t think that will happen, that’s a lot of poles. But, yeah, unbelievable. I would never have dreamed of being up there with names like A.J. Foyt.”

For Power, who trailed Dixon by 68 points entering the weekend, Sunday’s race is vital for his championship hopes, and he feels he is in a must-win situation.

“You know, the end of the day we have to win,” he asserted. “We have no shot at Sonoma if we don’t. We know that. We’ll take risks depending on the situation. But unpredictable. We’re aware that we have to finish not only ahead of Alex and Scott, but quite ahead. If they’re in the top three, it makes it very difficult for us.”

Alexander Rossi, who trails Scott Dixon by 26 points in the championship, qualified third, with Sebastien Bourdais rebounding from a crash in Practice 3 to qualify a strong fourth.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will start fifth, while Zach Veach advanced to his first Firestone Fast Six, qualifying sixth.

While Rossi enjoyed a strong outing in qualifying, Scott Dixon struggled somewhat, as he failed to advance to the Fast Six and settled for 11th on the grid.

Others who advanced to Round 2, but just missed the Fast Six are James Hinchcliffe (seventh), Ed Jones (eighth), Marco Andretti (ninth), Graham Rahal (tenth), and Jordan King (12th).

Results are below.

 

Follow@KyleMLavigne

Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister