Will Power being interviewed by Curt Cavin.
Will Power being interviewed by Curt Cavin. Photo by Lynne Huntting
There’s no new plays on words to be used for WILL POWER who again has the pole position for the Izod IndyCar race Sunday at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, in 86 degreesF heat. The Aussie driver in No.3 for Team Penske scored his third straight pole in the first three races of the 2011 IndyCar season. It was his third straight pole at Long Beach and his nineteenth career pole position.

Power’s lap was 1:09.0649/102.582 mph. He said he had to work for it. “That was a very difficult qualifying session. It’s important to start up front here. We’ve just got to be smooth and clean on the double-file restarts. I think everybody is learning to deal with that. We should be better this weekend.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport had led for some time, and it was a duel between the two, which RHR lost – by mere nano-seconds. His lap was 1:09.1409/102.469 mph. Deja vu. RHR and Powell went at it last year, with Hunter-Reay prevailing for the victory…after starting second.

Power said RHR “is going to be tough in the race.” But Power is motivated. “We finished on the podium the last two years. I want to get that top step.”

The ambient temperature was 86 degreesF, with the track heating up to 118 degreesF.

Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves. Photo by Lynne Huntting
The Fast Six in Qualifying were Powell, RHR, MIKE CONWAY/No.27 Andretti Autosport, ORIOL SERVIA/No.2 Newman/Haas Racing, JUSTIN WILSON/No.22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske.

The top Rookie of six was JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.06 Newman/Haas Racing, qualifying eleventh. Rookie J.R. HILDEBRAND/No.4 Panther Racing lost his best laps as a penalty assessed by IndyCar, for “impeding the process of GRAHAM RAHAL/No.38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing” – moving over on him when Rahal was exiting the pits. Rahal starts sixteenth. Hildebrand starts last.

The top female was SIMONA De SILVESTRO/No.78 Nuclear Clear Air Energy HVM Racing in eighteenth position.

RYAN BRISCOE/No.6 Team Penske and Power were first and second in the Saturday morning practice, followed by SCOTT DIXON/No.9 and DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10, both driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Fifth was RHR.

Overall for all three practice sessions, Briscoe’s Saturday time of 1:10.3222/100.748 mph was tops

Wilson, who is part of the leadership triumvirate for the IndyCar Drivers Association, said there would be further discussions on when the acceleration line should be in play. BRIAN BARNHART, IndyCar President, Competition and Racing Operations, has already met with Wilson, and DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Briscoe, and TONY KANAAN/No.82 KV Technology-Lotus. They came up with an idea, which is going to be thought about by all involved, and then have another meeting Sunday morning “to see if we could finalize it.”

When asked about the plan, Wilson said “It’s top secret. I can’t tell you that.”

DAN WHELDON, who used to drive for Panther Racing, will be racing the Indianapolis 500 this year with Bryan Herta Autosport. Saturday Herta and Wheldon held a press conference to announce that MIKE CURB and CARY AGAJANIAN will be partnering with the team.

Dan Wheldon
Dan Wheldon. Photo by Lynne Huntting

Agajanian had two requests – that the car run No.98 – as it will and now for that race, it will be called Bryan Herta Autosport/Curb-Agajanian. BHA is a partnership of Herta and race engineer STEVE NEWEY. The other request is that a show car be displayed in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, as part of its Centennial Celebration. That car will be joined by 11 other cars, for an exhibit opening 27 May and lasting through 23 October 2011. President Reagan was a big race fan and started his radio career announcing at a dirt track in Des Moines, Iowa. Also part of the exhibit will be Reagan’s Air Force One plane.

The #98 sponsors will be Curb Records and Big Machine Records, plus William Rast, a premium lifestyle clothing company. Wheldon, ever the fashionista, has already visit the local Rast store and left with bags and bags. He said “it was like Christmas for me to visit the shop.” Despite all that, Wheldon said “My sole intention here is to win. I’m here to look pretty.”

Sunday’s IndyCar race is aired live on Versus starting at 1:30 pm local time.