Australia’s reigning IndyCar champion Will Power smashed his year-old track record in grabbing pole position Saturday for the season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Four of the six drivers still in contention for the season title will start on the first three rows in Sunday’s race, in which double points will be on offer.
“I’m really stoked,” said Australia’s Power, who is fourth in the title chase led by Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.
“I love qualifying and very happy to end the year with a pole position.”
What had been expected to be a festive final week has been overshadowed by the death of British driver Justin Wilson in a Pennsylvania hospital on Monday after a head injury suffered in the previous day’s race at Pocono.
Wilson was struck in the head by debris from Sage Karam’s car after the rookie crashed his Ganassi Chevrolet while leading late last Sunday.
Karam, who suffered a foot injury, is in Sonoma merely as a spectator and the 20-year-old admitted he’s having a hard time getting to grips with Wilson’s death.
“It’s been tough on me, but the main thing is Justin’s family,” he said.
For the six drivers still in the championship hunt there’s work to be done, despite their grief.
Power’s qualifying lap time of 1min 16.2597sec crushed his previous track record of 1:17.2393 he set last year.
His bonus point for earning pole position pulled him within 60 points of Montoya in the standings.
New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, third in the standings, will start ninth, while Brazilian Helio Castroneves – fifth in the standings – will start in 15th.