WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) — Will Power gave Tony Kanaan a friendly tap on the arm when someone asked the fellow IndyCar driver about what it took to succeed at the Milwaukee Mile.
“Tell me!” Power joked.
No need — Power did just fine on his own Saturday. The IndyCar series points leader will start at the pole Sunday after being the only driver to surpass 169 mph in qualifying.
What a nice way to start the final three weeks of the season for Power, who has a slim lead over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in the standings.
“Obviously, a win tomorrow would be phenomenal as far as the championship goes,” Power said before narrowing his focus. “Just no other way to approach it but just be smart and keep your head down lap by lap. You can’t even think about the overall picture.”
Power topped qualifying Saturday with a lap at 169.262 mph. Castroneves will start eighth.
Tony Kanaan qualified second at 168.662 mph for his seventh straight top-10 start. A third Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, will start third.
After a week off in the series, the Milwaukee race begins a three-week stretch to end the season. Kanaan led a strong contingent from Chip Ganassi Racing, which will start four drivers in the top 11.
Kanaan won at the Mile in 2006 and 2007.
“We’ve been showing how quick we’ve been, how good we’ve been everywhere. We’ve just really got to get a little bit of luck on our side sometime,” Kanaan said. “Hopefully tomorrow we’ll challenge Will and some of the guys.”
Power took his third pole of the season, and the first since qualifying first in June at Texas.
The race is promoted by team owner Michael Andretti. The highest-qualifying Andretti Autosport driver was Marco Andretti, who will start ninth.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, third in the standings, will start in the second-to-last row in 19th place. Hunter-Reay won at Milwaukee the previous two years.
“We just missed the balance entirely today in qualifying — it wasn’t even close,” he said. “Unfortunately, we are going to have to pay for it tomorrow.”
Andretti driver James Hinchcliffe had the top speeds at both practice sessions earlier Saturday, but made contact with the wall late in the second session. Hinchcliffe said the car was fine, but track conditions had changed by the time of his qualifying run. He will start in 13th position.