Something about Will Power, Team Penske and Barber Motorsports Park go well together in Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying.
Power negotiated the 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course in 1 minute, 6.9614 seconds (123.653 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six, the climactic round of knockout qualifying. It earned the 36-year-old Australian the Verizon P1 Award and his fourth pole position at the track for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First.
HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA: Qualifying results
Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, edged a pair of teammates and past Barber pole winners for qualifying honors. Helio Castroneves was second in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet (1:07.1429, 123.319 mph) and Simon Pagenaud third in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet (1:07.3817, 122.882 mph).
“Congratulation to Will,” said Pagenaud, the defending Barber race winner and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “That was great qualifying and phenomenal for the race team: 1-2-3.”
Power’s 46th career pole – fifth all time – was the seventh for Team Penske in eight events at Barber Motorsports Park. It was also the 248th in Indy car history for the team, which Power said is where it all starts.
“First, it’s having a very good team and car, definitely working well this weekend,” said Power, the 2014 series champion who has Barber race wins in 2011 and ’12. “Kind of focusing very well and making sure I’m looking at the right things. Felt like I had a much better car on used tires; I think that’s kind of where we’ve been going wrong. Yeah, just very good result.”
Scott Dixon qualified fourth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing (1:07.5817, 122.518 mph). Ryan Hunter-Reay, the only non-Penske driver to ever win a pole at Barber, was fifth in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport (1:07.6851, 122.331 mph).
“This weekend, we struggled with just keeping up with the car,” said Dixon, a six-time podium finisher at Barber but never a race winner at the track. “It’s been tough in the conditions out here, but I think that was kind of the best we could hope for in qualifying. Pretty happy with that. Penskes have been strong all weekend and I think we’re in a good starting position.”
James Hinchcliffe, winner of the most recent Verizon IndyCar Series race, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9, qualified sixth in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda (1:07.8710, 121.996 mph).
Championship points leader Sebastien Bourdais qualified 12th in the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda, one position behind his Dale Coyne Racing teammate, rookie Ed Jones. It’s the best qualifying effort for Jones, the driver of the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda, in his three Verizon IndyCar Series races thus far.
A final 30-minute warmup practice is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. ET Sunday (streamed on RaceControl.IndyCar.com). Live coverage of the 90-lap race starts at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Fitzgerald Glider Kits sponsoring Newgarden at Barber, Montoya at Indy
Team Penske announced today that Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, is building on its partnership with the team to become a primary sponsor for three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017, including this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First.
Josef Newgarden is driving the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet at Barber Motorsports Park. Fitzgerald will also be the primary sponsor for Juan Pablo Montoya in the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet for both the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course and the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on the 2.5-mile oval.
“Team Penske is proud to work with Fitzgerald and to have the company build on its partnership with us in NASCAR to now expand to INDYCAR, it certainly shows their commitment to motorsports and to our organization,” said team owner Roger Penske. “This is a great opportunity for our team and Fitzgerald to team up for the greatest motorsport event in the world – the Indianapolis 500. With a two-time Indy 500 winner and proven champion in Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel, it definitely could be a special month of May at Indianapolis for Fitzgerald and our other partners.”
Tommy Fitzgerald Sr., the founder of Fitzgerald Glider Kits, is excited about the exposure his opportunity his company will receive with Newgarden this weekend and with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya next month.
“To be a part of the Indianapolis 500, and to do it with Team Penske, is going to be so exciting for our employees and customers,” Fitzgerald said. “What makes it even more special is getting a chance to work with a driver like Juan who, has such an incredible resume and track record at Indy. We are really excited to showcase the Fitzgerald brand to the fans of INDYCAR while still being a big part of Team Penske’s NASCAR operation. We’re looking forward to building on this momentum for the rest of the year.”