Needing a pole in the worst way, Will Power stormed to his third pole of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season at Mid-Ohio on Saturday.
The Australian uncorked a flier a full two tenths ahead of Dario Franchitti, a 1:05.6474 to Franchitti's 1:05.8950. That two-tenth gap was greater than the margin separating Franchitti from teammate and fifth-placed Scott Dixon for comparison purposes.
Power, who sounded rather drained after his effort, was very enthused about the pole as he seeks his first career Mid-Ohio victory on Sunday.
“Man, I've never been so tired, I'm shaking. It's so physical,” he said. “I think my car was better on used tires. Once the tires got some temps in them, it really started working. It's good for Verizon, the team. There is so much grip in this car, and downforce. It's the hardest I've tried all year, most I put into a lap. We needed a pole here.”
All of the Firestone Fast Six participants ran the last session on used Firestone reds rather than sticker reds, and Power reckoned his car was better on those.
Franchitti (BELOW), starting on the front row for the sixth consecutive race, has only one top-10 finish in that stretch (sixth last race at Edmonton).
“I maybe could have found a couple hundredths, but not a tenth,” he said. “It was actually a really good, complete lap. I got almost everything out of it. It's another front row start, hopefully we can turn it into a result for a change.”
Simon Pagenaud and Alex Tagliani qualified third and fourth, although Tagliani, who made his fourth consecutive Firestone Fast Six appearance, will face a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and will drop to 14th.
“We've improved so much since Edmonton,” Pagenaud said of his Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team. “We changed our philosophy. We had struggled on reds, but now the car's really good on reds. It was possible to do pole, but that Will Power is hard to catch!”
Tagliani on the continued pace of the Team Barracuda-BHA entry: “We knew we had the penalty going in. But I'm very pleased with the car. Since we switched from Honda, we got back in competitive mode. With four times in a row, we're kind of getting used to it. We have a very raceable car for tomorrow.”
Dixon and Ryan Briscoe – each former Mid-Ohio winners – completed the Fast Six.
Sebastien Bourdais just missed in seventh and was less enthusiastic in the TrueCar Dragon Racing car going into Sunday.
“The track picked up a tenth and a half, and I didn't. It's as simple as that,” he said. “If I would have backed it up, we'd have been alright. I screwed up, that's it. You let anything out of the car, and you're out.
“It's nearly impossible to pass. You're not gonna pass a guy whose five hundredths ahead of you. It's not the most exciting for the fans or for us.”
Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti were next. While RHR qualified behind two of his three main title rivals (Power, Dixon), Andretti backed up his weekend's improved pace with his first top-10 start on a road or street course since Brazil in April.
Josef Newgarden, Oriol Servia (LEFT, who advanced out of Q1 for the first time this season) and Justin Wilson made it through to round two but no further.
Helio Castroneves, after his morning dust-up with Mike Conway, didn't make it out of Q1 and will line up in 12th.
“The good news is, nothing happened to the hand,” Castroneves said. “I was pushing as hard as I could, but there was always a bit I kept missing.
The most frustrated teams would have to be KV Racing Technology and the secondary Chip Ganassi Racing squads. None of the combined five cars advanced from Q1, with Tony Kanaan fighting an illness all weekend.
Graham Rahal, on home turf, took to Twitter to offer his frustration with a 22nd-place effort, four tenths ahead of substitute driver Giorgio Pantano.
“Absolutely furious. We didn't do anything to improve for quals and it killed us. I'm not happy at all,” he wrote.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m05.6474s
2. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m05.8950s + 0.2476s
3. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m05.9038s + 0.2564s
4. Alex Tagliani* Herta Dallara-Honda 1m06.0047s + 0.3573s
5. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m06.0967s + 0.4493s
6. Ryan Briscoe Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m06.2005s + 0.5531s
7. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1m05.9405s Round 2
8. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m06.0660s Round 2
9. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m06.1142s Round 2
10. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda 1m06.1721s Round 2
11. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy 1m06.2053s Round 2
12. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m06.6613s Round 2
13. Helio Castroneves* Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m06.7041s Group 1
14. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy 1m06.3768s Group 2
15. Rubens Barrichello KV Dallara-Chevy 1m06.7101s Group 1
16. James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 1m06.4349s Group 2
17. Mike Conway Foyt Dallara-Honda 1m06.7807s Group 1
18. Takuma Sato Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m06.4404s Group 2
19. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy 1m06.8433s Group 1
20. EJ Viso KV Dallara-Chevy 1m06.4511s Group 2
21. James Jakes Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m07.1234s Group 1
22. Graham Rahal Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m06.6250s Group 2
23. Simona de Silvestro HVM Dallara-Lotus 1m08.0737s Group 1
24. Giorgio Pantano Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m07.0348s Group 2
25. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m08.5116s Group 1
* Will take 10-place engine penalty