Power takes crucial pole in Sonoma
24 August 2014 – Will Power claimed his fourth pole position of 2014 in the penultimate qualifying session of the IndyCar season. While he was unable to better his record-setting lap in Q2 (which broke his own 2012 record), Power's pole time was nearly 0.4s ahead of Josef Newgarden, although it looked as though Helio Castroneves would start alongside his teammate instead.
After time expired in Q3, IndyCar Race Control ruled that Castroneves had cut a corner earlier in his lap, so he would lose his fastest lap of the session. Dropping from P2 to P6, Power's nearest rival for the championship will start from outside the top five, where no driver in history has ever won. It also elevates Newgarden to the highest qualifying position of his career (where he also started at Mid-Ohio earlier this month).
Four different teams were represented in the top five positions with Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Briscoe rounding out the Firestone Fast Six. Dixon, the reigning series champion, is on the cusp of mathematically being eliminated from the title hunt, but the Kiwi found his way to victory lane at Sonoma once before in 2007.
Farther back on the grid sits Ryan Hunter-Reay, mired by a gamble his Andretti Autosport team made with his car's setup before qualifying. The 2012 IndyCar champion will start in tenth behind Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan and Carlos Munoz.
Tomorrow's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, which runs on the circuit's 2.2mi AMA Superbike layout, has seen Power take victory three times in the past four years (the only exception was his then-teammate Ryan Briscoe). However, while Power is no stranger to the track's podiu, he's also familiar with holding the championship lead late in a season only to see it slip through his fingers. Protecting a 40-point lead with two races remaining, though, he knows that 2014 is his best chance yet to capture his first IndyCar series championship.
Tonight's pole is Power's second consecutive Verizon P1 Award and the 36th of his career.