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Will Power Wins Pole For INDYCAR Grand Prix

Will Power celebrates winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series INDYCAR Grand Prix. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Will Power celebrates winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series INDYCAR Grand Prix. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

After Saturday’s three rounds of knock-out qualifying, Aussie Will Power bested surprising rookie Robert Wickens to win the pole for tomorrow’s INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road/oval course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Power’s Firestone Fast Six run today in his Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was the 51st pole of his Indy car career and was one of the most satisfying. “We’ve been quick everywhere in the qualifying so far this season, but our races have been disappointing,” noted Power who has now won the pole here three times. “The car was good on used tires, especially after we made some downforce adjustments.”

Robert Wickens, the surprising rookie this season, was fastest in the second qualifying session in his SPM Honda, but was feeling somewhat down to “only” finish second in the final session. “I feel a bit like a jerk complaining about missing the pole, especially after leading earlier, but since we didn’t test here earlier I should be satisfied; we just missed it.

Sebastien Bourdais will start his Dale Coyne Racing Honda third and knows how critical it is to avoid the early race contact that has happened in the past. “Qualifying well to avoid early lap troubles is important…get yourself out of those early lap melees. I had a good run in Q1, but made a mess of it in Q2. I didn’t extract enough from the car.”

Trailing the leaders tomorrow will be James Hinchcliffe (4th), rookie Jordan King (5th) and 2017 IndyCar series champion Josef Newgarden (6th).

For Power and the rest, starting up front was mostly satisfying, but there are some big names that will have to look hard to see the green flag wave as they are starting well behind.

Helio Castroneves, returning to Indy for the Month of May will line up 10th, while Ryan Hunter-Reay (13th), Graham Rahal (17th) and Scott Dixon (18th) will try to avoid those mid-field get-togethers that often occur on the first lap.

For Power, the view will be clear going into Turn One, but he’s still thinking about making his car better. “You have to work hard for the pole these days. We’ll use the warm-up tomorrow to change things,” Power explained, and the rest of the field better watch out. He’s captured the pole twice in the past and won the race each time; could this be number three?

NOTES:
• After two Indy Car practice sessions on Friday, Will Power, two-time INDYCAR Grand Prix winner, posted the fastest lap of the 24-car field in his Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. He bested rookie Jordan King’s Ed Carpenter Chevy and Alexander Rossi’s Andretti Herta Honda, with another rookie Robert Wickens’ SPM Honda and Penske’s Simon Pagenaud trailing. Power’s top speed in these two sessions was 126.657 mph.
• Race driver Conor Daly faces two battles each time he gets into and Indy car. One is to win the race and one is to overcome his medical problems with Type 1 diabetes, a fight he’s fought since he was 14 years old. Daly announced that he will put both of these battles to the test on May 27th when he straps into his Drive Down A-1 C. com Dale Coyne Racing with Thom Burns Racing Honda to not only win the Indianapolis 500 but to help promote the on-going fight to defeat Type 1 diabetes. Daly will also step out of his Indy car comfort zone and run a Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the August 25th NASCAR Xfinity event at Elkhart Lake’s Road America, to continue to bring awareness to race fans concerning Type 1 diabetes. “We’re obviously going to have a stronger program with Lilly Diabetes as part of it…and to have them let me have this shot at racing an Xfinity car is incredible,” explained the son of former driver Derek Daly.” Also speaking during the press conference was Ryan Reed, a diabetes sufferer who will compete along with Daly at Road America.
• Another announcement at Indianapolis Friday saw Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing extend its support for Turns for Troops, an organization that raises money to give paralyzed military veterans a chance to walk again. Along with RLL Racing, team sponsor United Rentals pledges $50 for each lap completed by the team’s drivers during both the INDYCAR Grand Prix (2 cars) and the Indy 500 (3). These funds will help to supply those soldiers with an exo-skeleton device that aides them in becoming mobile once more. Cost of each device is in excess of $100,000.

INDYCAR Grand Prix qualifying results
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Qualifying Friday for the INDYCAR Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:
1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:09.8182 (125.761 mph)
2. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 1:09.9052 (125.604)
3. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 1:09.9449 (125.533)
4. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:10.0858 (125.281)
5. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 1:10.1326 (125.197)
6. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:10.7276 (124.144)
7. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:10.0382 (125.366)
8. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:10.1062 (125.244)
9. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 1:10.1601 (125.148)
10. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 1:10.1847 (125.104)
11. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:10.1979 (125.081)
12. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 1:10.3592 (124.794)
13. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:10.0985 (125.258)
14. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:10.1044 (125.247)
15. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:10.2859 (124.924)
16. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:10.2113 (125.057)
17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:10.3605 (124.792)
18. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:10.3221 (124.860)
19. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 1:10.5064 (124.533)
20. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 1:10.3371 (124.833)
21. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 1:10.6425 (124.293)
22. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 1:10.5066 (124.533)
23. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 1:10.7784 (124.055)
24. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 1:10.7394 (124.123)

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”