Saturday, April 17, 2010

Will Power Secures 3rd Straight IZOD IndyCar pole at Long Beach

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

Unleashed on the hot California street circuit on Saturday afternoon, the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams focus on achieving the best possible starting position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

With 25 Indy cars taking to the 1.968 mile Long Beach streets for qualifying, the 3 rounds of timed times wrapped with the Firestone Fast Six. Prevailing on the final session of qualifying, Australian Will Power posted top time with a blazing 1 minute, 9.3185 second lap. More than 4/10th of a second faster than second place, the #12 Verizon Penske Racing car arrived as a favourite front-runner for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Having defended his 2009 pole run, Power's effort on the temporary street course added his 3rd consecutive pole of this 2010 IZOD IndyCar season. "We certainly have the car figured out, and I'm very happy that the Verizon car is P1 again." Power said in a post-race press conference.

Showing speed potential again on the temporary tracks after topping Friday practice, Ryan Hunter-Reay backed up Friday's performance with a 2nd fastest time on Saturday afternoon. Driving his #37 Andretti Autosport car for Sunday, Ryan Hunter-Reay is also entered in the American Le Mans Series event running a LMP Challenge car.

Behind Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson brought the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing #22 car to 3rd place through qualifying. While Penske Racing has been enjoying a potentially record-setting season, the growing Dreyer and Reinbold Racing team has shown some great progress with driver Justin Wilson teaming with Mike Conway. Through qualifying this season, the team has placed one of their two cars in the top-3 fastest competitors since St Petersburg.

With Will Power posing another very strong effort for the #12 Penske Racing car, car owner Roger Penske profited heavily from his entire three-car team as Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe joined his teammate in the Firestone Fast Six. Narrowly missing the Justin Wilson's 3rd place mark, Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner Helio Castroneves will start 4th tomorrow just one spot ahead of Ryan Briscoe.

Completing the Firestone Fast Six, Tony Kanaan will start 6th in his #11 7-Eleven sponsored car for Andretti Autosport. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti provided a 9th fastest time at Long Beach while Danica Patrick starts deep in 20th place. In 2009, Patrick posted her highest road course finish on the Long Beach circuit crossing the line in 4th place.

2009 winner of the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix race Dario Franchitti slotted in 12th fastest on the race track for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. Teammate Scott Dixon compared better to the field with an 8th place run but it remains apparent that the #9 and #10 cars on the IZOD IndyCar Series tour are having a hard time matching their 2009 vigor. With Scott Dixon claiming a runner-up position at Barber Motorsports Park, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is turning the corner back to American open wheel racing victory lane.

Under severe pressure to perform at Long Beach on Sunday will be Graham Rahal. Driving for the 3rd time and final scheduled time with Sarah Fisher Racing, the results have been less than desirable. With a highest finish of 9th at St Petersburg, Rahal in Long Beach qualifying could only beat 3 cars on track rounding up 22nd in the starting lineup. Rahal commented in post race saying "It's again been a very frustrating day, and I think that pretty well caps it off. Never have I ever been the slowest one in qualifying in my entire career. It's pretty frustrating; we just can't seem to get the car to react to any changes that we make."

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

With the race set to roll 1:15 p.m. local time (4:15 p.m. Eastern time), street course of Long Beach presents some passing opportunities. However, like many race tracks, considerable ground can be made up in the pits. Reminiscing about next week's IZOD IndyCar round at Barber Park Motorsport, Will Power is mindful to never discount the importance of pit road strategy. "Strategy can screw you, but it also can go your way. So we've got to read that well tomorrow."

Television coverage for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar race of Long Beach starts on Versus at 3:30 p.m. for American viewers. Canadian viewers will have to catch the race on TSN2 at 5:00 p.m.

2010 IZOD IndyCar
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Starting Lineup

1. 12 Will Power/Australia/ Penske Racing
2. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States/ Andretti Autosport
3. 22 Justin Wilson/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
4. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil/ Penske Racing
5. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia/ Penske Racing
6. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil/ Andretti Autosport
7. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada/ FAZZT Race Team
8. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
9. 26 Marco Andretti/United States/ Andretti Autosport
10. 4 Dan Wheldon/England/ Panther Racing
11. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan/ Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
12. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland/ Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
13. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
14. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil/ AJ Foyt Enterprises
15. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil/ KV Racing Technology
16. 24 Mike Conway/England/ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela/ KV Racing Technology
18. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil/ Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
19. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan/ KV Racing Technology
20. 7 Danica Patrick/United States/ Andretti Autosport
21. 19 Alex Lloyd/England/ Dale Coyne Racing
22. 67 Graham Rahal/United States/ Sarah Fisher Racing
23. 34 Mario Romancini/Brazil/ Conquest Racing
24. 36 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium/ Conquest Racing
25. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela/ Dale Coyne Racing

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