Power, Penske Dominate Qualifying in Sonoma
Will Power dominated Fluid Film Pole Day qualifying on Saturday at Infineon Raceway, taking the pole for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Power, who recorded his sixth pole of the year and second consecutive at Infineon Raceway, turned the 12-turn, 2.303-mile track in 1 minute, 18.601 seconds. He was followed by Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves (1:19.091) and Ryan Briscoe (1:19.111).
It was the first time Team Penske secured the top three spots in qualifying since 2010.
"We were just smart with our tires in the first two rounds of qualifying and we knew we had to lay one down to be on the pole so we did that," said Power, the defending champion in Sonoma. "It's nice to get the Verizon car on pole again."
Castroneves was equally pleased.
"It's great to be in the front row again," said Castroneves, who took the checkers at Infineon Raceway in 2008. "Penske at 1-2-3 is a very good thing and shows we're working and getting better."
IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti, who entered the weekend with a 47-point lead over Power, was fourth in qualifying (Target, 1:19.146) with Scott Dixon (Target, 1:19.389) rounding out the top five.
Other drivers of note included Sausalito's JR Hildebrand, who qualified 20th, Ho-Pin Tung (24th) and Danica Patrick (25th). Tung will become the first Chinese-born driver to compete in an INDYCAR race when he takes the green flag on Sunday.
Patrick Long (Porsche) posted the win in the SCCA World Challenge feature race, beating second-place Johnny O'Connell (Cadillac) by more than five seconds in the GT class. Mike Skeen (Chevrolet) was third.
"Luckily there was a lot of green flag racing. We haven't had a lot of that this year," said Long, who entered the race No. 1 in points. "That's where this Porsche is at its best. Johnny O'Connell could have pushed me NASCAR-style but that's not the way he races."
Other winners in the SCCA World Challenge race were Peter Cunningham (GTS) and Lawson Aschenbach (Honda).
San Rafael's Patrick O'Neill took the victory in the Formula Car Challenge main event on Saturday. Michael Guasch was a distant second, more than 21 seconds behind O'Neill, with Lloyd Read of Pleasanton third.
"I wanted to basically get a good start and build a comfortable lead," said O'Neill, who entered the race sixth in points. "I just had to focus on hitting my marks and then watch out for lap traffic."
Racing resumes on Sunday at Infineon Raceway with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma set to take the green flag at 1:45 p.m. Other main events include Formula Car Challenge Race #2 (11 a.m.); Historic Grand Prix (11:45 a.m.); and SCCA World Challenge Race #2 (following Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma). Tickets are available at the gate; visit www.infineonraceway.com/indycar for more information.
SONOMA, Calif. - Qualifying Saturday for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.303-mile Infineon Raceway road course, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:
1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 01:18.6017 (105.479)
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.0916 (104.825)
3. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.1112 (104.799)
4. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.1464 (104.753)
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.3892 (104.432)
6. (06) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.4546 (104.346)
7. (27) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 01:18.9388 (105.028)
8. (19) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Honda, 01:18.9717 (104.984)
9. (59) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.0724 (104.851)
10. (24) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.1100 (104.801)
11. (22) Giorgio Pantano, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.2408 (104.628)
12. (77) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.8032 (103.891)
13. (38) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.3311 (104.509)
14. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.3717 (104.455)
15. (17) Martin Plowman, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.3792 (104.445)
16. (5) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.3836 (104.440)
17. (18) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.4744 (104.320)
18. (2) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.3955 (104.424)
19. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.6402 (104.103)
20. (4) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.4654 (104.332)
21. (82) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.7270 (103.990)
22. (78) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.5635 (104.204)
23. (34) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.7517 (103.958)
24. (88) Ho-Pin Tung, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.5894 (104.170)
25. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.7854 (103.914)
26. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 01:19.8349 (103.849)
27. (67) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 01:20.6269 (102.829)
28. (14) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 01:20.1209 (103.479)