Will Power has been overcoming overwhelming odds since he crashed his Penske Honda nearly a year ago at Infineon Raceway. The Austrialian has overcome a broken back, a lack of practice time, and career uncertainty to win the initial Mario Andretti Road Course Championship.
Power clinched the championship despite having two full races remaining by winning the pole for the Hondy Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Power ran a 1:07.19 lap very late in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session to wrestle the pole from Dario Franchitti.
When the new champion arrived in the media room for a post qualifying press conference, he was unaware that he had clinched the road course championship. But he had other things on his mind.
Power crashed his primary No. 12 Verizon car during morning warmups. His Penske team spent the next two hours getting his backup car ready to go for the qualifying session. "I am very happy for the Verizon team and I can't thank the crew enough. I made it hard for them after my practice and they had to do a lot of work."
Power faced some new competition in the Firestone Fast Six, as former Formula 1 Japanese driver Takuma Sato joined the usual suspects in shooting for the pole.
Sato came out hot and held the pole for over half of the session, however Franchitti and eventually Power overcame the KV Racing driver to place Sato third on the grid for Sunday's race, his highest starting position in the IZOD Indycar Series.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, and Helio Castroneves rounded out the Fast Six. The second round of qualifying featured plenty of excitement and drama. Simona DeSilvestro had a good run going during the fast 12 section of qualifying, but a broken clutch ended her hopes of moving into the Fast Six.
Fast Six favorites Justin Wilson and Ryan Briscoe both had great runs going during the tail end of the Round of 12, however the two cars got together when Wilson tried to pass Briscoe on the inside in the backstretch. Wilson went airborne, as he and Briscoe ended up in the tire barriers. Briscoe sprang from his ride and ran to Wilson, who was still in his car. The two argued for a while before the safety crews arrived. Wilson injured his thumb in the crash, but is expected to be fine to race. This situation should be an interesting one to watch on race day.
The Hondy Indy 200 will go live on Versus network at 2:30 pm on Sunday with Bob Jenkins providing all the play by play you can handle. Qualifying order follows:
1. Will Power Team Penske Honda Dallara 1:07.1977
2. Target Honda Dallara 1:07.2846
3. Takuma Sato-R KV Racing Technology Honda Dallara 1:07.4337
4. Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 1:07.4411
5. Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 1:07.4711
6. Team Penske Honda Dallara 1:07.5370
7. Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Honda Dallara 1:07.4687
8. E.J. Viso KV Racing Technology Honda Dallara 1:07.4713
9. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 1:07.5436
10. Simona de Silvestro-R HVM Racing Honda Dallara 1:07.6190
11. Justin Wilson Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Honda Dallara 1:07.6230
12. Hideki Mutoh Newman Haas Racing Honda Dallara 1:07.7491
13. Dan Wheldon Panther Racing Honda Dallara 1:08.2415
14. Alex Tagliani FAZZT Racing Honda Dallara 1:07.7789
15. Bertrand Baguette-R Conquest Racing Honda Dallara 1:08.3069
16. Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology Honda Dallara 1:07.7821
17. Adam Carroll-R AFS/Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 1:08.4825
18. JR Hildebrand-R Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Racing Honda Dallara 1:07.7943
19. Raphael Matos de Ferran Dragon Racing Honda Dallara 1:08.5386
20. Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 1:07.9321
21. Alex Lloyd-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara 1:08.7818
22. Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara 1:07.9780
23. Francesco Dracone-R Conquest Racing Honda Dallara 1:11.3968
25. Milka Duno Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara no time
26. Graham Rahal Newman Haas Racing Honda Dallara 1:08.0459
27. Jay Howard-R Sarah Fisher Racing Honda Dallara 1:09.5028