Will Power is on pole for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway, despite losing his fastest lap for going off course. His qualifying lap of 1:17.4126/110.912 mph wasn’t as fast as his earlier lap, nor even his qualifying record set in 2012.
On the front row with Power is Josef Newgarden in No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda.
Third through sixth were Scott Dixon No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, James Hinchcliffe No.25 UFD Andretti Autosport Honda, Ryan Briscoe No.8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Helio Castroneves No.3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.
The top Rookie was Carlos Munoz No.34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com/HVM Andretti Autosport Honda, who qualified ninth.
Power said There definitely is less pressure starting up front. It’s the best possible position to win the race. You think about what you can control and just go about the race.”
Newgarden, definitely starting better than his two previous runs at Sonoma, said “This is my worst track, up to now. It’s very difficult to understand this track. The feedback to the engineer is so critical here, and I’m getting better at it. It’s so cool to see the progress.”
Dixon prefers the three-day IndyCar format for Sonoma. “No time for lunch and a nap” with this weekend’s schedule. Dixon has been in the Fast Six 49 times, and is the only driver to have completed every single race lap at Sonoma Raceway.
Hinch, in his eighth Fast Six run this season, said his qualifying run was “a record-setting improvement from my practice session. I spun twice on the same lap, five times in practice, and I’ve been backwards in Turn Seven three times. We’ve got a great team. My thanks to the Andretti teammates for their help. We just put our heads down and didn’t let it get to us. A clear lap is always good, but if you run into one of five guys in a six-car session, then something’s wrong. The wind caught me out a different way than Helio.”
Briscoe said “Power feels like this track owes him (after his huge crash). He’s had an amazing partnership with his race engineer, Dave Faustino. You know coming here he’s the one to go after. This race is kinda like maintenance, and Fontana is the championship.”.
Castroneves said “I want to try and make Roger (Penske, team owner) happy. Our team is having a good day. Unfortunately the (significant) wind shift caused me to have an off last lap. I pushed a little bit harder to pull off a miracle. We know what we need to do for tomorrow.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who qualified tenth in No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda was disappointed that the big gamble they made on setups didn’t work, but feel they can make it up Sunday.
Power won last year’s Sonoma IndyCar race. Sunday IndyCars half-hour Warm-Up is set for 10 am PDT, with the 85-lap race set to start at 1:40 pm PDT. The live NBCSN broadcast begins at 1 pm PDT/4 pm EDT.