Sunday, August 28, 2011

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Qualifications - Penske's Day At Sears Point

Penske Racing's Will Power as he navigates his way around the corners of Infineon Raceway while achieving his sixth PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season. Image Credit: Chris Jones via IZOD IndyCar Series

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Qualifications - Penske's Day At Sears Point

Qualifications for Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma by Team Penske, and in particular - Will Power, the session result could not have been planned any better. If Power has any hope of gaining points back on series points leader, Dario Franchitti, he needed to get the pole position and get as many places between himself and Dario to give any cushion at all.

Well, Team Penske came through with superior car preparation and an amazing performance put in by Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe to capture P2 and P3 on the grid in front of Franchitti for the race. For Dario's part, he did the best he could to maintain the first starting position behind Team Penske, leading Will Power going into this weekend by 46 points with only five races remaining (Road/Street cources at Sonoma, Baltimore, and Twin Ring Motegi followed by two oval courses in Kentucky and Las Vegas).

In earning his sixth PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season, combined with Franchitti starting fourth in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, Power gains one point in the season championship to bring the pre-race season points deficit to 45.

Will Power smokes 'em up in capturing the pole position in qualifying at Sonoma. Image Credit: Chris Jones via IZOD IndyCar Series

"Qualifying is very important here," said Power, who recorded a quick lap of 1 minute, 18.6017 seconds on the 2.303-mile, 12-turn road course in the Firestone Fast Six. "A Penske 1-2-3 is good, and we have two guys between the Target cars. This qualifying session was as perfect as it could go. We were able to put a perfect lap together that was mistake-free and hit all of the sectors and that was the key to posting the quickest lap.

[The championship] is going to come down to who is going to make the least amount of mistakes," continued Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. "Dario still has a reasonable lead, but that could turn around in one weekend. Obviously, if we have a bad weekend and he is 70 points ahead with four weekends to go it will be tough ... near impossible.

"We need to execute this weekend and just keep finishing ahead of Dario. It's as simple as that."

(quotes ht:

Will Power accepts the Peak Pole Award for the second time in as many years. Image Credit: Chris Jones via IZOD IndyCar Series

Fact remains, if Will Power believes he has any chance at all, he needs to be the best at Road/Street courses and the Oval courses the balance of the season to prove he deserves to become a first time champion.

With the top 10 cars covered by only a half of a second on a 2.52 mile 12 turn road course in qualifications, the proving begins here at Infineon Raceway, Sears Point in Sonoma, California.

Pos -- Driver -- Team -- Time -- Gap
1. Will Power Penske 1m18.602s (Q4)
2. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m19.092s (Q4) + 0.490s
3. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m19.111s (Q4) + 0.505s
4. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m19.164s (Q4) + 0.545s
5. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m19.389s (Q4) + 0.788s
6. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas 1m19.545s (Q4) + 0.853s

7. Mike Conway Andretti 1m18.939s (Q3) + 0.337s
8. Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne 1m18.971s (Q3) + 0.370s
9. Ernesto Viso KV 1m19.072s (Q3) + 0.471s
10. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 1m19.110s (Q3) + 0.508s
11. Giorgio Pantano Dreyer & Reinbold 1m19.241s (Q3) + 0.640s
12. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 1m19.803s (Q3) + 1.202s

13. Graham Rahal Ganassi 1m19.331s (Q2) + 0.729s
14. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m19.378s (Q2) + 0.770s
15. Martin Plowman AFS/Sam Schmidt 1m19.379s (Q1) + 0.776s
16. Takuma Sato KV 1m19.384s (Q1) + 0.719s
17. James Jakes (Dale Coyne) 1m19.474s (Q1) + 0.873s
18. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 1m19.396s (Q1) + 0.739s
19. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m19.640s (Q1) + 1.039s
20. JR Hildebrand Panther 1m19.465s (Q1) + 0.864s
21. Tony Kanaan KV 1m19.727s (Q1) + 1.125s
22. Simon Pagenaud Dreyer & Reinbold 1m19.564s (Q1) + 0.962s
23. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 1m19.752s (Q1) + 1.150s
24. Ho-Pin Tung Sam Schmidt Dragon 1m19.589s (Q1) + 0.988s
25. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m19.785s (Q1) + 1.184s
26. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 1m19.835s (Q1) + 1.233s
27. Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher 1m20.627s (Q1) + 2.713s
28. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m20.121s (Q1) + 1.837s
(chart ht:

The race will be broadcast Sunday Aug. 28 on VERSUS at 4 pm ET and IMS Radio.

... notes from The EDJE

[Article first published as Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Qualifications - Penske's Day at Sears Point on Technorati]

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