Power Ties Unser With 49th Career IndyCar Pole

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Will Power earned his 49th career Indy car pole position Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Chris Owens/IndyCar photo)

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Will Power will start from the front row at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the sixth straight year after claiming the pole during Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power’s best lap of 1 minute, 4.1720 seconds (126.672 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six was enough to earn his third pole position at Mid-Ohio, his fifth pole this season and the 49th of his Indy car career.

Power is now tied with Bobby Unser for fourth on the all-time pole winners list and sits just one behind current teammate Helio Castroneves for third.

“The Verizon car was really hooked up,” Power said. “Before qualifying, we made a few changes and kind of got it in the window. Really happy for all the guys, especially here. You’ve got to start at the front here; it’s really, really difficult to pass, so (winning pole is) giving us the best chance to win tomorrow.”

Power, who has yet to win a race at Mid-Ohio, was among three Team Penske drivers to advance to the Firestone Fast Six.

Joining Power on the front row will be teammate Josef Newgarden, who qualified second in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.3067, 126.407).

“I think we did a good job today,” Newgarden said. “The boys on the (No.) 2 car gave me everything I needed with a fast car. It’s been pretty good all weekend.”

“It’s always tough to get pipped by your teammate by just a little bit, but ultimately it’s a good day for us on Team Penske. We have two cars up there on the front row.”

Takuma Sato, winner of the Indianapolis 500 in May, qualified third in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (1:04.6792, 125.679). Graham Rahal, who was fastest in his group in each of the first two qualifying segments, finished fourth in the Fast Six with a lap of 1:04.7959 (125.452) in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda.

Rahal, who is from nearby Columbus, won at his home track in 2015.

“A good qualifying session for us,” said Rahal. “It was a shame that in (the Firestone Fast Six), I frankly just messed up. I didn’t have Power’s speed, but I kind of threw it away early in the lap and that was that. Disappointed, but at the same time happy because we showed we’ve got the pace. Hopefully tomorrow we can work from fourth.”

Helio Castroneves, a two-time Mid-Ohio winner (2000-2001), qualified fifth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet (1:04.8485, 125.351).

Points leader Scott Dixon extended his streak of reaching all seven Firestone Fast Six sessions this season and qualified sixth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda, hoping to extend his three-point margin on Castroneves.

Defending Mid-Ohio race winner and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud missed advancing to the Firestone Fast Six by less than five-hundredths of a second and will start seventh in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.

“I’m surprised that we didn’t get in (the Firestone Fast Six) because it felt like a good lap and I put everything I had in it,” Pagenaud said.

Conor Daly advanced past the first segment of knockout qualifying for the first time this season and will start 11th in the No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. Alongside Daly in Row 6 will be Esteban Gutierrez, whose 12th-place showing in the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda is his best qualifying effort in six races with Dale Coyne Racing.

Tony Kanaan originally advanced from the first group of Round 1, but was penalized for causing a local yellow that impeded other drivers’ laps. Kanaan spun sideways in Turn 2 on his final lap, forcing other drivers to slow as he corrected the car to continue on track.

The automatic penalty levied by INDYCAR is loss of the driver’s fastest lap to that point, which prevented Kanaan from advancing.

Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…

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