Power play: Part-timer nails down Indy pole

Terry Jones, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:21 PM ET

A part-time driver in Penske truck rental car is on the pole for the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Oh, Will Power has been there before. Eight times. He's even been on the pole here before, in Champ Car in 2007.

But Power did it as an extra Saturday, driving a canary yellow job Roger Penske lets him take around the track every once in a while for being such a sport this season.

Brought in to replace Helio Castroneves at the start of the schedule when the Brazilian was awaiting the result of his tax evasion trial, Penske gives Power a different colored car than the red and white Team Penske cars of Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe, slaps Penske Truck Rental advertising on it, and sends out one of his sports car crews to work the pits in select races.

“They're as good as you get,” says Power of his crew. “Penske material. Obviously they're not working on this car every weekend. Half time time they're on a sports car. So for them to come over and prepare this car, we never have problems and hardly ever have to make changes. They do a fantastic job.”

Here Saturday Power led a Penske parade.

He gave Penske his first 1-2-3 qualifying start of the season and the 18th 1-2 result with both spots in the front row in series history.

Briscoe, who won the pole here last year, sits second. Castroneves is third with last year's race winner Scott Dixon beside him.

“Will did a great job,” said Castroneves.

“There's no question the talent is there. I have no doubt he would be battling with us as well for championship points,” added the defending and three-time Indy 500 winner of how it might be if Power had been a permanent third man in on the team.

Graham Rahal made it into the fast six for the fourth time in five races to start fifth with series leader Dario Franchitti sitting sixth. He is the only driver to be in the Firestone Fast Six this season.

Franchitti has been a study all weekend. One of only four drivers who has never run here before, he had to herd the car around on what he called a less than pretty lap to get into the Firestone Fast Six and was quite happy to end up on the third row.

“We're struggling this week,” he said. “We can't get both ends of the car working at the same time.”

But the story was as much who will be starting at the back of the pack as it was who will be up front taking the green flag at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Edmonton 2006 race winner Justin Wilson, road racer extraordinaire, was the biggest surprise in failing to advance out of the first qualifying group.

Wilson, who hasn't done much on ovals, is usually a hot foot on the multi-turn track and has done especially well in Edmonton, finishing 1-2-3-4 (although not in that order) in the four races held here so far. He'll start this one in 15th spot.

Also back in the pack is former Indy 500 pole sitter Tony Kaanan who also didn't get through in the first qualifying group.

The Andretti-Green driver was joined by high profile team-mates Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti starting back in the pack as both failed to get out of the second group. Hideki Mutoh did make it through group two but didn't make it to the fast six.

It's been a miserable year for Andretti-Green this year. And it doesn't look like it's going to get much better here with Mutoh starting 12th, Kanaan 13th, Andretti 18th and Patrick 20th in the field of 23.

Also former Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, who was forced to drive a back-up car Saturday after crashing on practice day, will start way back in 22nd after failing to get through the second group.

Canada's Paul Tracy led for much of the first session and moved through comfortably but spun out in the 12-car semi-final and ended up ninth. Canadian Alex Tagliani, driving the Northlands sponsored car, will start from 17th.

Franchitti says keep an eye on Tracy. He's not that far back.

“Give him a sniff of a win and look out. I'm telling you man. He looks good. Typical P.T. Spectacular. I think if he can get amongst it, he will be difficult to beat.”


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