Will Power on Pole at Pocono

Will Power is becoming synonymous with 500-mile races. The Team Penske driver captured pole position for tomorrow’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono. It is the 53rd career pole for Power, which ties him with AJ Foyt for second on the All-Time list. The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner put together a two-lap average of 219.511 mph to crush the rest of the field.

Power has led laps in all five Pocono races, leading more laps (175) than any other driver. If Power can win tomorrow, not only will it be his third straight victory at Pocono, but he would also become the first driver to win three consecutive 500-mile races since Al Unser in 1978. Power will be joined on the front row by teammate Josef Newgarden, who has two runner-up finishes at Pocono. Row 2 belongs to Andretti Autosport drivers Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Qualification Results for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono

The starters in Row 3 have been having surprising seasons, in different ways. Simon Pagenaud has been struggling this year, but qualified well today. Robert Wickens has been the pleasant surprise of the year, showcasing his talent once again as he leads the way for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in qualifying on Saturday.

The first practice session was delayed 30 minutes as track officials worked on some weepers around the Tricky Triangle. Drivers were scrambling to experiment with the new wing extensions and wickers that were part of IndyCar’s revised superspeedway package. Zach Veach led the opening session, and ended up qualifying in 7th position. Veteran Sebastien Bourdais starts alongside him in 8th. James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten in qualifying.

Championship leader Scott Dixon will start 13th tomorrow. In the five races at Pocono, Dixon has never started better than 9th, but also never finished worse than 9th, winning the race in 2013. There have been 15 total 500-mile races since the start of the 2012 IndyCar season. The only driver to lead laps in every one of those races is Tony Kanaan. He has led a total of 401 laps in those 15 races. He qualified 14th today in his No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

It was a rough day for Ed Carpenter Racing, as Ed and Spencer Pigot will start 15th and 16th respectively tomorrow. Graham Rahal’s qualifying struggles this season continued, as he will start 18th tomorrow. Still, Graham has made a habit this season of charging straight to the front when the green flag waves.

The race distance is 200 laps, which is 500 miles around the 2.5-mile triangular oval in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Takuma Sato won the pole for last year’s race, and Power is the defending race winner.

Coverage for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono begins at 1:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. There will be one final practice session¬†at 4:45 PM this afternoon, where teams will fine tune the machines for tomorrow. The one-hour session will be streamed live on IndyCar’s YouTube channel, and will air on the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.

Photos courtesy of IndyCar

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Driver Quotes

Josef Newgarden:¬†“I think we did a good job with the setup, it’s just that’s about what we had, speed-wise. The guys did a good job. We get a one-two lock-out on the front row. That’s good. We can’t be disappointed. We’ll have the Verizon car and the Hitachi car up there. I think that’s what we had. I’m pretty happy with our run.¬† That was our speed.”

Matheus Leist: 
“Qualifying is done here at Pocono – it’s a tricky place, but every time I go to the track I’m getting more used to the car – to everything – and I think I’m feeling more comfortable and looking forward to the race now. Just have to do a good job and finish in the top 10.”

James Hinchcliffe:¬†“I think we can be pretty proud of that run. We had a bit of a messy run this morning and we didn’t get to test here last week, but the guys did a great job. We had the balance a bit off in that first practice, but it got a lot better. Every time we leave pit lane, we always seem to make this No. 5 Arrow Electronics car a little stronger, and in qualifying, we always step forward. If we keep that trend up this afternoon, hopefully, we can have a great race¬†tomorrow.”

Robert Wickens: 
“This morning was a struggle. We actually had a really tough first practice, we just couldn’t find clear air and I didn’t really know what balance we had… Hats off to everyone at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports; the Lucas Oil car was great and (James Hinchcliffe’s) Hinch’s Arrow car was quick, as well. Big thanks to Hinch because he told me Turn 3 was easy flat (out), which was something I never even came close to this morning or at the test here last week. So, I trusted him, committed to it on the first lap and it worked.”

Scott Dixon:¬†“It may have looked like we made some changes on our qualifying lap, but we didn’t really. I think we were a little surprised with the understeer in the car, to be honest. Turn 3 I was flat and then we’d struggle on the exit of Turn 1. The car bottomed out somewhat there in the first lap, so I’m not sure what happened. It is what it is though and the PNC Bank car feels comfortable. It’s a long race¬†tomorrow¬†and we’ll have to deal with traffic and try and get to the front.”

Ed Jones:¬†“I think you’re always a little disappointed when you don’t qualify up near the front, but it looks like both cars kind of struggled there a bit in qualifying. We know it’s a long race though and we have another good practice session this afternoon to work on race running for¬†Sunday¬†in the NTT DATA car.”

Will Power:¬†“Very cool to be up there (tied for second on the all-time poles list) with A.J. Foyt, a legend like that. I couldn’t have imagined that starting my career. So, it’s over the moon. It’s great to start at the front here. I think it will be a bit of a track position race and that’s what we need to get our championship back on track.”

Tony Kanaan:¬†“Could have been a little bit better. I think I was expecting to be inside the top 10, especially with the speedway car that we had in Indy – this is a similar track – but all in all, I think we’ll be very competitive and I’m looking for to it be a turnaround point of the season for us. This race and the next one are races that the team has a history of doing pretty good and that I have a history of doing pretty good, so hopefully this will be the weekend in front of the 1900 employees that are coming to cheer us, we’re probably gonna take care of half of the racetrack!”

Graham Rahal:¬†“We struggled with the rear of the car. We had minimal understeer, which was good, but when I tried to go in Turn 1 hard, it gave a big wiggle and it’s hard to get your confidence back after a lap like that. I knew we needed to be flat (on the accelerator) in Turn 3 and we were nowhere near that, so I knew we would struggle with the pace. The race is 500 miles. Last year, it didn’t feel great in qualifying either and we ended up leading a little bit of the race, so we’ll be all right.¬† We won the 500-mile race at Fontana from 19th.¬† You can win 500-mile races from anywhere.¬† All of us do our best work on Sundays.”

Sebastien Bourdais:¬†“It was a pretty good run for the SealMaster Honda No. 18. I feel like I was a bit too conservative in Turn 1. I probably could have been more aggressive, but it was a big jump in speed already from Practice 1 to qualifying. I didn’t want to overdo it and make a mistake, either spin out or commit too quick and wash out on the exit, which I kind of did on Lap 2. It’s always a bit of a compromise at Pocono. They call it the “Tricky Triangle” for a reason, especially with the level of downforce we have here the tires go away pretty quick. I was happy I got Turn 3 flat, the guys did a good job preparing the car and it’s a solid starting position for¬†tomorrow’s¬†race.”

Pietro Fittipaldi:¬†“I’m happy with qualifying. We were the first ones out, so we knew it was going to be difficult. It’s a 500-mile race, so the most important part is having a good race car and making sure you can run well in traffic. It was much windier in qualifying than in practice this morning and you could feel it a bit going into Turn 3 with the car moving around a bit more than in practice. There were other cars out there running before us as well, so the track may have been a bit dirty with a different rubber on it, but overall, it was a decent qualifying run for us and now we can focus on the race.”

Ed Carpenter:¬†“We’ve made improvements throughout the day. We weren’t extremely happy when we got here. It’s quite a bit different this year, I think you’re seeing some of the guys that did tests have a little bit of an advantage. We’re working through it. We were definitely better there than we were at the end of Practice 1, so hopefully, it stays dry and we can keep working on it. We definitely have a little work to do to get to where the Andretti (Autosport) cars are.”

Spencer Pigot:¬†“We had a little bit too much understeer in Turn 1, which really hurt our speed through the other two turns. Hopefully, we can solve that for¬†tomorrow¬†and have a good race car. I know the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet team will be working hard and we’ll keep pounding away at it.”

Charlie Kimball:¬†“We didn’t get the chance to test here until this morning’s practice session, so we were really just trying to get on the same level as everyone else in a short period of time. Overall, the balance was great and the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet has been rock solid since we unloaded, so I feel good about the Carlin team heading into¬†tomorrow. If we get the opportunity to practice this afternoon, we’ll be even better. We ran pretty well in Indy, as well as in Texas with a top-10 finish that we were pretty happy with, so I think we’ll be pretty quick¬†tomorrow. The good thing about this race is that we’ll have 500 miles to figure it out.”

Zach Veach: 
“I’m pleased to be in the top 10. I think I might have been a little too fast on the out lap. I was so excited to get going, I think I just overcooked it a little bit. We set the fast time early on and were hoping it would hold, but there was a long way and some serious contenders to go. The tough thing about going out toward the front is waiting. Next year, I’m going to make sure we are higher up in points, so we can go out last. But, the Group 1001 guys have given me a great car and I’m just excited to keep going. We’re starting seventh and have 500 miles to race so the starting spot doesn’t really matter – I think RHR (Ryan Hunter-Reay) has proved that.”

Alexander Rossi:¬†“Definitely happy with the qualifying run today for the NAPA Andretti team. It was a disjointed first practice for us, so to be in the second row as top Honda and have Ryan (Hunter-Reay) right next to us is a good day. This is a fun racetrack and we have a long way to go¬†tomorrow, so hopefully, we’ll get¬†tonight’s¬†practice in and have something celebrate¬†tomorrow¬†night.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay:¬†“We had a pretty good run. Coming out of Turn 1, for some reason, I got up into fifth gear sooner than expected and had to go up to sixth at that point – going into the wind. The car just fell on its face, so we lost some speed there. But nothing like what we needed to put up numbers like (Will Power and Josef Newgarden) ran; they’re definitely on another level right now. I was hoping for a cloud cover, but it rolled in right as we finished the run. But it was a good run for the No. 28 DHL boys and we can go out and have a good race from fourth¬†tomorrow¬†– that’s the important thing.”

Takuma Sato:¬†“Today we didn’t have a particularly good practice session, so I am satisfied with our qualifying run. We had a good speed. The tires are different; the aero kit is different, so it was a whole new challenge for the drivers and engineers.¬† We will hopefully find out how the new package will race in the final practice if the weather cooperates.”

Max Chilton:¬†“You could definitely feel the wind out there, but that was part of the challenge. It’s not easy conditions right now and the wind just keeps building. We ran quite a few laps this morning just to get as much track time as we could, but at the end of the day, it’s just difficult for a new team only running one hour of practice and then heading straight out into qualifying. Plenty of people have won here from one lap down, so we’ll just try to keep the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet in the race, and hopefully, be there at the finish.”

Conor Daly:¬†“We had an issue this morning that we ended up finding during Practice 1 that restricted our time on track, which is a shame because we really didn’t have a lot of practice time before qualifying. Luckily, we fixed the issue before practice ended. So, we used qualifying as a test session and I tried to get the best out of it that I could, we did pick up a lot of speed on ourselves from Practice 1. It’s just another box ticked to trying to work on more grip, and hopefully, we can run this afternoon to find more speed.”

Marco Andretti: 
“The run felt pretty good, but I need to look at where the speed is. Not a bad day for the U.S. Concrete car and if we’re not on pole, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter where we start here with 500 miles to race¬†tomorrow. It’s great to be in front of a home crowd and U.S. Concrete has a large group here this weekend to celebrate the 2019 extension, so we’re looking forward to¬†tomorrow.”

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