Power wins Kentucky pole; Franchitti qualifies 11th
Sparta, KY (Sports Network) - Will Power added an extra point to his lead over Dario Franchitti in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship battle by winning the pole for Sunday's Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
Power from Team Penske earned his series record-tying eighth pole of the season and set a two-lap track qualifying record at 219.283 mph in Saturday's qualifying session at the 1.5-mile track. His first seven poles this year came on road/street courses.
"I think it's great to get the car up there, get the point, put ourselves in the best position to lead laps and win the race," Power said. "Full credit to the crew. They spent the last two weeks getting the best chassis combinations and every bit of bodywork we've got all together at the shop finding the best car for me.
"They've just been working hard because we realize that's sort of been where our weakness has been, is on the ovals. They've come up with a really good car."
With the pole, Power now holds a 12-point lead over two-time defending series champion Franchitti, who qualified a disappointing 11th. His Chip Ganassi Racing crew changed the engine in his No.10 car between the second practice session and qualifications.
"We just didn't have the speed we did in the first [practice] session," Franchitti said.
Graham Rahal will join Power on the front starting row after his two-lap average of 218.348 mph. Rahal has started no worse than third in the past three races.
"I thought Will was going to be tough to beat, but I didn't see that kind of speed coming from him," Rahal said. "It feels good to start on the front row. We have been knocking at the front door qualifying in the front of the field the last few races, and I hope we can have a good result and finish up front."
Rookie James Hinchcliffe qualified third, followed by Ed Carpenter, who started on the pole for this race last year.
J.R. Hildebrand, also a rookie this year, and Marco Andretti will start on the third row, while Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will occupy row four.
Oriol Servia and Charlie Kimball will roll off from row five.
Danica Patrick qualified 14th.
Dan Wheldon did not make a qualifying attempt since his No.77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car did not pass technical inspection. Wheldon, who is making his first start in the series since winning the May 29 Indianapolis 500, will start from the rear of the 29-car field. He is taking Alex Tagliani's place for this 300-mile event.
Pippa Mann will also start from the back after crashing her Rahal Letterman Lanigan car during practice earlier in the day and therefore not participating in qualifying.
10/01 20:24:03 ET