Barber IndyCar: Power takes pole, leads Penske 1-2-3

Verizon IndyCar Series’ 2014 champion Will Power scored the 46th pole position of his Indy car career and second of the season to head Team Penske-Chevrolet teammate Helio Castroneves in a tough shootout at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power was the only driver to slip under the 67sec barrier, lapping the 2.38-mile course in 1min06.9614sec, 0.1815sec ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves and 0.42sec ahead of reigning champion teammate Simon Pagenaud.

Scott Dixon was fastest Honda driver, but the Chip Ganassi Racing driver fell 0.6sec short of pole. On what turned into a difficult day for Andretti Autosport-Honda, it was no surprise that Ryan Hunter-Reay – who took one of his most brilliant pole positions here in 2013 – would be the one AA driver who made it into the Top 12, although making it to the Fast Six was better than he could have hoped for.

He will start fifth, alongside James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda. Hinchcliffe, along with Dixon, is the only driver to have started all three races this season from the Firestone Fast Six.

The fourth Penske-Chevrolet of Josef Newgarden was eliminated in Group 2 but he will start seventh, ahead of the second Schmidt Peterson car of Mikhail Aleshin, two Ganassi cars of Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan, and the two Dale Coyne Racing-Hondas of Ed Jones and Sebastien Bourdais. Reigning Indy Lights champion Jones did well to eke a 0.06 margin over his championship-leading teammate, although to be fair, Bourdais did not use his second set of red [softer alternate] tires.

Eliminated in Q1, surprisingly given his pace in practice, was Marco Andretti, who came up 0.0031sec short of making the grade, despite setting a faster Q1 time than teammate Hunter-Reay who did make it through from the second group. Andretti will start 13th, alongside teammate Takuma Sato, while the fourth AA car of Alexander Rossi will line up in 18th.

Although IndyCar rookie Zach Veach finished last in his group, he could take quiet pride from falling just 0.55sec from teammate Spencer Pigot on what has been a very difficult weekend for Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet, the team that won here at Barber with Josef Newgarden just two years ago.

However, despite Veach being slowest of all, due to tackling Group 1 and the vagaries of the group/qualifying 1 system, he will roll off 19th, ahead of Conor Daly who hit traffic on his best lap, and Graham Rahal. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda driver’s form had been up and down throughout practice, and now last year’s runner-up will start at the very back of the 21-car field.