Archive for June 5, 2015


Will Power earned the Verizon P1 Award for the third consecutive year at the Texas Motor Speedway oval and tied a legendary Indy car driver for career pole positions in the process.

Driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power recorded a 2-lap average speed of 218.519 mph (47.9410 cumulative seconds) as the first of 23 Verizon IndyCar Series qualifiers for the Firestone 600 to be run under the lights June 6 (8pm ET, NBCSN). It’s Power’s fourth pole this season and 40th of his 11-year career, tying him with retired Team Penske driver Rick Mears for fifth place on the all-time list.

Power set track qualifying lap records earlier this season on street courses at St. Petersburg and Detroit Belle Isle, as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He was six-tenths of a second off his 2013 Texas Motor Speedway two-lap qualifying record on the 1.455-mile, high-banked oval and led a Team Penske sweep of the top-three qualifying positions.

Firestone 600 Qual Results

“When I drew No. 1 (in the qualifying order), I was a bit worried about conditions, but it stayed consistent throughout the whole run of qualifying,” said Power. “I was really happy to get pole, honestly. I felt if I could be in the top five, I’d be happy. Starting first, really happy about that.”

Power will be seeking his second victory at Texas Motor Speedway in the 248-lap event. He won the second race of the same-day doubleheader in 2011. “The race will be interesting,” he said. “There are many (aero kit) components you can put on the car to add downforce, but it’s really draggy so it’s going to be about finding the compromise between speed loss and grip.”

Simon Pagenaud, fastest in the late-morning practice in the No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet, earned his third front-row start of the season with a two-lap average speed of 218.441 mph. “I just missed it by a little bit,” said Pagenaud, who posted the fastest lap of the practice session at 218.744 mph.

Helio Castroneves, who has won four times at Texas Motor Speedway, qualified third (218.069 mph) in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet. Carlos Munoz, winner of the first race last weekend at Belle Isle, broke the Penske stranglehold up front by qualifying fourth (217.831 mph) in the No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda for Andretti Autosport.

Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya (217.530) & Graham Rahal (217.438) qualified on Row 3.

“Starting up toward the front with these boys is exactly where we need to be. Obviously, points are a big focus for us right now,” said Rahal, who is fifth in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. “It is going to be a tough race; everybody is going to have to manage their tires as well as they can. I feel like our race car is pretty good and I feel like track position is going to be pretty important here, too.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, uninjured in a crash in the morning practice, qualified his repaired No. 28 DHL Honda 21st in addition to his Andretti Autosport crew winning the Pit Stop Challenge.

Chris Joned Wolters
Castroneves Looking to Make Name for Himself …

There’s Foyt Drive and Andretti Avenue, Rutherford and Sneva roads – arteries that lead from the Victory Circle perimeter road to the Texas Motor Speedway gates. Helio Castroneves, a four-time winner in 17 Indy car starts on the 1.455-mile oval with Team Penske, has lobbied track president Eddie Gossage to join the other Indy car legends for a stretch of pavement to be named in his honor. “I mean, I am the only four-time Verizon IndyCar Series winner at the track,” Castroneves said. “(Gossage) assured me that if I make it five wins, there will be a ‘Helio Castroneves Boulevard’ at Texas Motor Speedway.”

Globe-hopping Bell Back with NBCSN Crew …

Townsend Bell is logging a lot of miles lately – on the racetrack and in the air. Between driving in the Indianapolis 500, racing sports cars on two continents and his gig as an NBCSN analyst on Verizon IndyCar Series broadcasts, the 40-year-old Californian is in the midst of a most hectic and varied schedule.
Since May 1, Bell has:

  • Driven a Ferrari 458 in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California (May 3);
  • Spent two weeks in Indianapolis, where he practiced, qualified, raced and finished 14th in the 99th Indianapolis 500 (and worked for NBCSN on Carb Day);
  • Driven the Ferrari 458 in the Detroit Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix sports car race (May 30);
  • Hopped on a plane to France immediately after the Detroit race to test a different Ferrari (May 31) in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scheduled for June 13-14;
  • Flew back to the United States to resume his NBCSN duties this weekend for the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, Bell included.

“It’s starting to get a little confusing when I open my backpack to pull out my proper (race series) credential for the day,” Bell joked. “I’m starting to forget who I am and what I am supposed to be doing, between the TV commitments and sports cars here, sports cars there and the Indy 500. Frankly, it’s been a blast. Sure, the time zones can get a little exhausting and the travel’s a little irritating, but I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I’m having a great time.”

Data and Photography courtesy of IndyCar

Images by Chris Jones