SPARTA, Ky. – Team Penske Racing driver and IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) championship leader Will Power grabbed his first Kentucky Speedway pole award and eighth of the season by turning a 219.283 mph (00:48.5948 seconds) two-lap qualifying average in his No. 12 Verizon Dallara/Honda/Firestone this afternoon.
The 30-year-old Australian will start tomorrow's "Kentucky Indy 300" with an 11-point advantage on Chip Ganassi Racing's three-time and defending IICS champion Dario Franchitti, who qualified 11th with a 217.213 mph (00:49.0579 seconds) two-lap average in his No. 10 Target Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Franchitti's teammate Scott Dixon, who will take the green flag for tomorrow's race third in the standings and 59 points off the lead, qualified seventh with a 216.692 mph (00:48.9886 seconds) two-lap average in his No. 9 Target Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Power has reeled off six victories and a total of 11 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes this season. He rides impressive momentum into tomorrow's 17th IICS race of the season after nailing down two victories and a second-place finish in his last three starts.
"I think it's great to get the Verizon car up there on the point. We put ourselves in the best position to lead laps and win the race. I give full credit to the crew the last two weeks for providing the best chassis combination, the best body work. We have got it all together at the shop and they've given me the best car for me. We realize that our weakness has been on the ovals, but we've come off with our best car ever," Power said.
He will make his fourth IICS Kentucky start looking to build on his series track-best eighth-place finish from last season's Sept. 4 event. He averages a 14th-place finish at the track.
Franchitti readies for his seventh career IICS Kentucky Speedway start. He's raced to a total of five top-five Kentucky finishes and registered his series track-best fifth-place finish last season.
"It's been a rush for the guys, but the balance of the car was good in the second practice and very good in qualifying. It didn't accelerate on the front stretch, so I was pretty upset with qualifying. I don't know what we need to be doing. The good thing is being a part of the Target team, we know we can rebound and have the stuff for a good race car tomorrow. The car is good in traffic and consistent after a number of laps. It seems quick early, so hopefully we'll be good tomorrow," he said.
Dixon is set for his ninth Kentucky Speedway IICS start. He rolled to an Aug. 9, 2008 victory at the track and placed seventh for the second straight time at the speedway last season. He has earned a total of four top-five and six top-10 finishes in the commonwealth, including second-place showings in 2007, 2006 and 2003.
"We tried to find speed and that was the most difficult part of it. The car is pretty good balance wise and it feels good, but as for straight out speed, it was missing. Obviously, we're going to try to overcome that," Dixon said.