Power claims Baltimore GP pole for second straight year
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Will Power continued his dominance in qualifying on the IZOD IndyCar Series' road/street courses this season by winning the pole position for Sunday's Baltimore Grand Prix.
Power, who is the points leader heading into the penultimate race, captured the pole position for the Baltimore GP with a lap in 1 minute, 17.9750 seconds during the final "Fast Six" qualifying segment on the streets of downtown Baltimore. The Team Penske driver started on the pole and led 70 of 75 laps to win last year's inaugural race here.
With the pole, Power earned one bonus point, which pads his lead to 37 over Ryan Hunter-Reay, who qualified 13th. If Power leaves Baltimore with a lead of 54 points or more over his closest competitor in the standings, he will clinch his first IndyCar championship. He has finished second to champion Dario Franchitti the past two years.
"It's important to get the pole; it's another point," Power said. "It give us the best potential at the start, and we can control our destiny."
Power picked up his fifth pole of the season, including his third in a row. He has started on the pole and finished second in the past two races -- Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, Calif.
Saturday's qualifying session on this 2.04-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit featured several accidents in the chicane along the front straight. Mike Conway turned the second quickest lap in the Fast Six in 1:18.5509. Conway, though, made contact with the tire barrier in the chicane after the checkered flag waved in Q3. He is also one of five drivers who received a 10- spot grid penalty for unapproved engine changes. The A.J. Foyt Enterprises driver will start 12th.
"I just went into it too hard, and it was my own fault," Conway said. "It just lifted me up. Then it bounced me into the wall. I knew it was coming."
On Friday evening, track personnel created a tire barrier on the front straight to simulate a chicane and therefore lower the speeds there. The modification came after Simon Pagenaud's airborne crash in that area of the track during opening practice earlier that day.
"This track is very physical," Power said. "There are lots of turns and not many straights, especially now that they have added the chicane."
Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal also wrecked in the chicane during qualifying. Wilson's incident occurred during Q2, while Rahal crashed on his opening lap in Q1.
"I went over that curb and hit it a little too hard, and the car launched into the air," Rahal said. "It hit the second curb, and when I landed on the railroad tracks, it shot to the left. I just had no hope. At that point, you're a passenger."
Rahal's accident led to red-flag during the final minutes of Q1, preventing Hunter-Reay from making another lap in hopes of advancing into Q2.
"We've got some engine penalties in front of us, so we can manage this," Hunter-Reay said. "We really step on our foot today. That's what you get for going out the latest (in the first qualifying session)."
Scott Dixon qualified third, followed by Sebastian Bourdais and Franchitti. All three of these drivers will advance one position on the starting grid due to Conway's penalty.
James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, Wilson and Bruno Junqueira, who is substituting for the injured Josef Newgarden in the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry, qualified sixth through 10th, respectively.
Ryan Briscoe, who won last weekend's race at Sonoma, placed 14th.
Kimball, Junqueira, Takuma Sato and Simona de Silvestro were also penalized 10 grid places for engine changes.
Sunday's Baltimore GP is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. (ET).
09/01 15:00:11 ET