IndyCar: Will Power qualifies on pole for Saturday race in Detroit

Will Power holds the pole position trophy after qualifying first for the first race of the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto racing doubleheader on Friday.

DETROIT – In the hours leading up to the Verizon IndyCar Series qualifications for Saturday’s first race of a Detroit doubleheader, Team Penske driver Will Power said it still hurt to think about how close he came to winning Sunday’s 99th Indianapolis 500. The defending IndyCar Series champion lost to his teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, by just 0.1046 second in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

“Man, I was really disappointed,” Power told FOXSports.com on Friday. “Just felt bitter disappointment all week.”

Power decided to take out that frustration on the field during Friday’s qualifications for Saturday’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park. He sped his Team Verizon Chevrolet around the 2.35-mile, 14-turn temporary street course at a lap record 1:16.0941 for a speed of 111.178 mph. Second was teammate Helio Castroneves with a 1:16.120 (111.140 mph), meaning it’s an all-Penske front row at the race owned by team owner Roger Penske. Montoya, who celebrated his second Indianapolis 500 victory in only three attempts last Sunday, was third-fastest at 1:16.4428 (110.670 mph) in a Chevrolet.

Takuma Sato was the top Honda driver in fourth place with a lap at 1:16.5363 (110.536 mph). Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was fifth at 1:16.6656 (110.349 mph) and fellow Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the Firestone “Fast Six” at 1:17.0406 (109.812 mph) in a Chevrolet.

It was Power’s third pole of 2015 and the 39th career pole position of his career, one behind Rick Mears for fifth-most in Indy car history. It’s his first pole at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park, topping a second-place start in 2012.

“It’s the pole, but it’s a long race around here,” Power said. “Once again, it’s about battling the teammates around here and we have all year. It’s been a great weekend and a really good start. We will try and keep ourselves out of trouble and see what magic we can do tomorrow. I had new tires, so I was pushing hard. Then they said Helio and Juan were pretty close. I made a couple of mistakes, and the car was pretty loose. But overall it’s a fantastic job and a good start to the weekend.”

This weekend is the only doubleheader on the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule after three doubleheaders in 2013 and 2014. Saturday’s race starts at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC with the green flag set for 3:50 p.m.

Kanaan's car to feature Taylor Swift paint scheme in Detroit

The field will run two 15-minute group qualifying sessions on Sunday for Race No. 2, which will start at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday on ABC with the green flag at 3:50 p.m.

Power is the defending winner of Race 1 at Detroit with Castroneves winning Race 2 in 2014.

“I really like the doubleheaders because it is good for the fans,” Power said. “In qualifications, we had new tires, so I felt like you only get a couple laps out of them so your only shot is to go out at the end of the session. I started 16th last year, so I was quite a ways back. The good thing about this track is you can pass. There is nothing worse than getting stuck back there.”

For the final lap in Sunday’s Indy 500, Power’s Chevrolet was stuck behind Montoya’s. The driver from Australia tried to get by his Colombian teammate, but it wasn’t enough to win the Indy 500 for the first time in his career.

“The last lap of the Indy 500 when you know you aren’t going to win it is really disappointing, but it was a very fun race for me,” Power said. “It was just a matter of me not adjusting the car enough for the last lap. I thought I was fine until I tried to get a run on him.

“Juan got by me with two laps to go and I had another run on him, so I lined myself up to try to get him down the backstraight. But I went into Turn 2, had a push, had to lift, went into Turn 3, had a push, had to lift and it was over.

“You always look at different ways that it should play out, but it played out the way it was meant to play out.”

What to watch: Your weekend racing schedule

Despite Power’s disappointment, he marveled at the tremendous job that Montoya did to win the race.

“It was a hell of a job because he came from way back – all the way through the field,” Power said. “That’s the type of day you need to win the 500. He had the car to do it.

“I was disappointed after the race, absolutely. It was such a big buildup. If you finish fifth, you think it’s a great day, but if you finish second, it is bitter disappointment.”

After a full month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Power is ready to take on two races in two days.

“It’s interesting spending all that time at the Speedway then you come here and it’s bumpy and changing all the gears all the time and it’s physical,” Power said. “I have to get back in road course mentality again.

“It’s a fun track – technical, hard, brutal – a great track.”

**

Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. ET.