Will Power wins the Verizon P1 Award for claiming the pole position for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
NTT IndyCar Series

Power continues St. Petersburg qualifying dominance

Story Credit: INDYCAR PR
Photo Credit: INDYCAR Photo

{boxplus href=”images/News/2017StPete/SatPowerJones.jpg” title=”Photo Credit Chris Jones/IndyCar Photo”}Will Power wins the Verizon P1 Award for claiming the pole position for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg{/boxplus}

Will Power continued his mastery of Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg qualifying, winning the pole position today for the seventh time in the last eight years for the opening race to the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power navigated the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course in 1 minute, 1.0640 seconds (106.118 mph) on his final lap in the climactic Firestone Fast Six – the third and final round of knockout qualifying. The 2014 series champion’s lap was 0.1579 of a second better than Scott Dixon in the No. 9 GE LED Lighting Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I saved a good set of tires for the end there,” said Power, a two-time St. Pete race winner (2010 and ’14). “They had one (fast) lap on them.

“That was everything I had at the end. I gave it all I had because I knew it was going to be close. I haven’t put that much energy into a lap for a while. I’m really happy.”

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Qualifying results

Twenty-one cars are slated to take the green flag in Sunday’s 110-lap race on the course that utilizes streets of downtown St. Petersburg and a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. Power is the last driver to win from the top starting spot – the first year he captured a pole at the track in 2010.

Dixon dominated practice in advance of qualifying and was the only driver to log laps under the 1:01 mark in each of the first two segments of qualifying. The 17-year Indy car veteran has finished second three times at St. Petersburg but never won in 12 previous starts.

“Honestly, I think the team and Honda did the job; I just did not,” Dixon said. “I made a pretty big mistake on my first lap, which definitely disappointed. … Hopefully tomorrow I can redeem myself.”

James Hinchcliffe, the 2013 St. Petersburg winner, qualified third in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (1:01.3039), the best starting spot for the Canadian in what will be his sixth St. Petersburg start. Josef Newgarden will start fourth in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (1:01.7229, 104.985 mph), also his best St. Pete qualifying effort. The past four Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race winners have qualified in the fourth position, though 2016 winner Juan Pablo Montoya started third after pole sitter Power fell ill and didn’t start the race. Power’s replacement, Oriol Servia, was moved to the rear of the 2016 starting grid.

One on-track incident occurred in qualifying. Sebastien Bourdais locked his brakes heading into Turn 13 on his first lap in the first segment and slid into the barrier to bring out a red flag. Under new INDYCAR qualifying regulations, any driver causing a red flag is not permitted to continue in the session and barred from advancing to the next segment. Bourdais will be at the tail of the 21-car grid in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda.

A final 30-minute warmup practice at 9 a.m. ET Sunday (RaceControl.IndyCar.com) precedes the race that airs live at noon ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the first of 17 races on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.

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