WEST ALLIS, Wis. – In a series where the season championship is often determine by one or two points, Team Penske driver Will Power realizes that every point counts.
That is why Saturday’s pole for Sunday’s ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers was so big.
“I’ve lost the championship by two points and four points, so they all add up in the end,” Power said. “There’s obviously still a lot of points on the table. But they all count.”
Officially, Power’s one point for the pole won’t be awarded until after Sunday’s race. He enters the contest with a four-point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves and a 63-point lead over defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport.
It was Power’s third Verizon P1 Award of the season as he recorded a two-lap average speed of 169.262 mph at The Milwaukee Mile. It was also the 35th pole of his IndyCar career.
“It’s just a great start to the three-race chase, you could say, for the championship finish,” Power said. “It’s traditionally a track position race. In practice it was definitely hard to pass so I can see you’re going to be in traffic all day.”
Factoring in the one-point bonus for winning the pole that gives Power a five-point lead over Castroneves, who qualified eighth with a two-lap average speed of 167.561 mph. Both Power and Castroneves use Chevrolet engines.
“I wasn’t the first one out, but I knew that going out early was going to be a bit of a disadvantage,” Castroneves said. “You could tell on the second lap that the track was just going to get better and better. Starting up front is good, but it’s not essential to winning. You can definitely pass here at Milwaukee and pit strategy is always key. I thought the Hitachi Chevy was decent in race mode. If we can find a bit more speed we can make it interesting tomorrow.”
Hunter-Reay, the two-time defending winner at Milwaukee, qualified way back in 19th with a two-lap average of 164.211 mph in a Honda.
“We just missed the balance entirely today in qualifying – it wasn’t even close,” Hunter-Reay said. “Unfortunately, we are going to have to pay for it tomorrow. I just hope we get out of the first couple of stints on the lead lap the way things are going right now. We’ve had great cars here in the past, but just missed it here in qualifying. It’s pretty frustrating but we can rebound tomorrow.”
Power has a best finish of third in five starts at Milwaukee.
“I’ve been in this situation quite a few times. So has Helio and (teammate) Juan as well,” said Power, who was the championship runner-up three consecutive seasons. “But IndyCar is like that these days. It’s very tight. It’s so unpredictable. With three to go, I just think anything can happen. You just got to keep your head in the game and keep focused. That’s my plan.”
Tony Kanaan matched his season high by qualifying second (168.662 mph) in the No. 10 Huggies car. Montoya, driving the No. 2 PPG Team Penske car, will be joined on Row 2 by 2008 race winner Ryan Briscoe (168.266), who also matched his season-best qualifying position, in the No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing entry.