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Will Power has done it again.
The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series Champion grabbed his 38th career pole today. This Verizon P1 Award for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis keeps him in 6th place on the all-time IndyCar records list. Power, who was obviously pleased with this result, noted that qualifying is his second favorite part of a race weekend because they have to give it absolutely everything they’ve got. What’s the only thing that trumps a great qualifying session? Winning, of course! (I have a feeling he probably also enjoyed setting the new track record today – three times!)
Through some questions in the presser, Power ended up discussing how incredible it would be for a driver to win both races at IMS. Given the strength that the Chevy aero kit has shown on street circuits & road courses so far, it’s a fair assessment to think that Power could very well end up the victor in tomorrow’s 2nd annual GP of Indy. But, since we don’t really know which oval aero kit will produce higher results, it’s impossible to gage whether IMS will see a double-win driver in the Month of May this season.
While the total domination by one driver in the Month of May is not yet predictable, there is a domination that remains strong this season after today’s qualifications results. Team Penske has claimed all 5 Verizon P1 Awards thus far, in 2015. Power’s first pole of the season happened to be at the first race of the season – on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Power was also the defending Champion at that race but his teammate Juan Pablo Montoya ended up with the win. Montoya kept that hot streak alive by landing pole at the following race – the Inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana. Helio Castroneves took the pole in back-to-back weekends at the Grand Prix of Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park.
The strength of Team Penske has been a storyline weaved throughout the narrative very blatantly this year, but even Power admitted after qualifications today that it’s not good for the field to have such clear division. I wrote about that after the St. Petersburg opener, I still believe it to be true and it seems I am not alone in that assessment. The close competition and unpredictability of this series could very well be getting lost in the implementation of aero kits. Are they giving us faster laps? Yes. Are they helping us break track records? Sure. But is that really all worth it if we lose value to the overall product on said track?
It was inspiring and hope-infusing to see the results two weekends ago at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Not only was it, in my opinion, the best race of the season… but Honda and Chevy were running neck and neck and ended up on the podium thanks to Graham Rahal’s impressive run right alongside powerhouses like Dixon and Power. It was the IndyCar we all know and love and my hope is to see it make another appearance tomorrow.
As far as which Honda driver to watch for a possibly breakthrough tomorrow, I would keep your eye on AJ Foyt Racing driver, Jack Hawksworth. He found himself running quickest a few times today during the qualifying sessions, and ultimately advancing to the Top 12 as the only Honda in a sea of Chevys. Hawksworth led 31 laps at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis during his Rookie year. This track is a good fit for him and I would not be surprised to see him battling traffic tomorrow in order to find the front of the pack again.
Another driver who could have a surprisingly great run tomorrow is Sebastien Bourdais. The Frenchman never ran lower than P4 in all three practice sessions this weekend – his best finish being P2 on Friday morning. He nearly advanced to the Firestone Fast 6, but he was kept out of it due to a fraction of a second – thirteen one-hundredths of a second to be specific. That wasn’t his time behind Ganassi Racing driver, Scott Dixon, but rather the amount of time left in the session before Dixon crossed the line prior to the checkered flags waving, signifying the end of qualifying session 2. That final lap is what placed Dixon ahead of Bourdais. KVSH Racing challenged, asking for a review of the lap since they thought Dixon’s last lap started after the end of the session. Unfortunately for Bourdais’ and his team, this was denied and Dixon’s time was confirmed. The four-time Champ Car Champion will start on the inside of Row 4 tomorrow.
The Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis will air on ABC at 3:30pm, Saturday May 9th. The green flag will wave at 3:50 p.m. ET, and as long as the weather gives us a clear window, the field of 25 will race for 82 laps. Tune in to see Team Penske driver, Simon Pagenaud, defend his race title! If you are coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, make sure you are here bright and early for a full day of activities including the Indy Fans Tweet Up with Pippa Mann and other special guests from IndyCar. We will be hosting the free event on Pagoda Plaza at 12:30 p.m. and all the details are listed here.