BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Will Power and Penske Racing are back in a familiar position at Barber Motorsports Park: Starting in the pole position at a track where they dominated until last year.
Power, a two-time winner, came out on top in a Fast Six qualifying Saturday that featured five drivers from IndyCar powerhouse teams Penske, Andretti Autosport and Ganassi Racing.
“I was thinking it was going to be very tough to beat the Andretti boys, they’ve been so fast around here,” Power said. “But I was able to do one lap each time on my tires, so I had two shots at it. It was awfully close. Nothing between everyone.”
Andretti teammate James Hinchcliffe qualified second, as he did at Long Beach, while defending champion Ryan Hunter-Reay
Hinchcliffe was stranded beside the track for most of last year’s race after damage on the first lap. He also started on the front row in 2012 and finished 12th.
Josef Newgarden is fourth and his team with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing might as well represent the underdogs in the group that also includes Ganassi’s Scott Dixon and Penske’s Helio Castroneves.
Power and Castroneves combined to claim the pole and the win in each of the first three years at the track. For Power, that’s three pole starts in five years at Barber. Hunter-Reay broke the team’s stranglehold last year, starting and finishing first.
NATIONWIDE SERIES: In Richmond, Va., Kevin Harvick pulled away on a restart with 47 laps to go and ended Chase Elliott's two-race winning streak in the series with a dominating victory early Saturday at Richmond International Raceway.
Harvick led 202 of the 250 laps in a race delayed nearly 3½ hours at the start by rain Friday night. The victory was the 41st of his career in the series, and his record-extending seventh at 0.75-mile Richmond.
Elliott, the Georgia high-schooler and son of racing great Bill Elliott, was looking to win his third consecutive race and pad his points lead, but managed to do just the latter when Harvick was too fast.
INDY LIGHTS: In Birmingham, Ala., Zach Veach won his second series race of the season.
He started on the pole and led throughout at Barber Motorsports Park.
Veach, who drives for Andretti Autosport, beat Luiz Razia by 3.844 seconds. Jack Harvey, Razia’s teammate for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, finished a season-best third.
Veach maintained the three-second cushion over the final 10 laps. He won the maximum 53 points for the victory to stretch his lead.
He said the car “was easy to drive” and predicted “we’ll be right back up there” in the second race.
Formula One: In Maranello, Italy, Simona de Silvestro moved a step closer to achieving her dream of competing in Formula One next year after a first day of in-car testing with Sauber.
The Swiss driver completed 112 laps in a two-year-old Sauber C31 at Ferrari’s Fiorano Circuit in northern Italy.
“Although it’s something very special to drive a Formula One car, I was not too nervous in the morning,” De Silvestro said. “I was more focused on what my job would be. But after completing the installation lap I realized that this was my first lap in a Formula One car, and that this was something really special.”
De Silvestro was confirmed as an affiliated driver with Sauber at the beginning of the year after four years in IndyCar. She earned her first career podium in October with a second-place finish at Houston. It was the first podium finish for a woman on a road course in IndyCar.