via IndyCar.com

03-28-Power-Wins-VP1-Award-Std

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, March 28, 2014 -- Team Penske swept the top four positions in the Firestone Fast Six, led by Verizon P1 Award winner Will Power, during qualifications for the Verizon IndyCar Series season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 29.

The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion recorded a lap of 1 minute, 00.6931 seconds in the 10-minute session on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg temporary street circuit in the competition debut of the aerodynamic bodywork supplied by Chevrolet and Honda.

In the first two rounds of qualifying, Power set and reset the track record that Sebastien Bourdais (1:00.928) held since the inaugural Indy car race in 2003. Power lowered the standard to 1:00.8344 in Round 1 and bettered it with a lap of 1:00.6509 in Round 2. With a clean lap in the waning seconds of the Firestone Fast Six, the driver of the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet said he likely would have made it three in a row.

It was the 36th career pole (sixth all time) for Power, who previously was the top qualifier at St. Petersburg in 2010-13. He won the race in 2010 and '14 on the way to his first series championship.

First-year Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud was .0321 of a second behind Power in the Firestone Fast Six to qualify second. Helio Castroneves, the only three-time winner at St. Petersburg, qualified third (1:00.8356) and Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth (1:00.8532).

"It was tight. Full credit to the team. I'm stoked to get pole," said Power, who won from the pole in 2010 and in his 2014 series championship season. "It just shows the work we've done over the winter. It's four good drivers that will battle it out (3 p.m. ET on ABC).

"Team Penske has definitely made ground over the winter over the other teams. I think it's going to be a pretty interesting four-way battle amongst the team and Scott Dixon is right in there as well. I expect those five to be the championship contenders."

Takuma Sato, who earned the Verizon P1 Award in 2014 with a lap of 1:01.8668 in the Firestone Fast Six driving the No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing car, was the quickest of the Honda contingent in fifth (1:01.1496) and Bourdais qualified sixth (1:01.1545) in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet.

Stefano Coletti qualified 17th in the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet as the top rookie.

Though Power said his first title was "like getting that monkey off my back," he's been thinking during the offseason about challenging for another.

"I can't help but want to win. Your own personal pressure comes with that," Power said of his season outlook. "Nothing has changed; I feel the same as I did when I wasn't a champion. I have to go out there and win races; it's what I want to do."

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