Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

Montoya wins Pocono pole

LONG POND, Pa. — In open wheel or a stock car, Juan Pablo Montoya knows Pocono Raceway.

Driving for Team Penske in his open-wheel return after seven years in NASCAR, the Colombian knocked off Penske teammate Will Power on the final qualifying run Saturday for today's Pocono IndyCar 500.

Montoya had a two-lap average of 223.871 mph for a track record and his first career IndyCar pole. "I feel at home in the car now," he said.

Montoya won a Pocono pole in NASCAR in August 2012. He also won 14 open-wheel poles in CART from 1999-2000.

Carlos Munoz joined Montoya and Power, the points leader, on the front row. Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe completed the second row.

Montoya had the good fortune of going out last after one driver after another took a turn atop the leaderboard. Helio Castroneves, Andretti, Sato and Power set the one-lap track record and held the provisional pole.

Power and Castroneves are 1-2 in the series standings for Roger Penske. Montoya is fifth and climbing after three straight top 10s.

"(Montoya has) brought a lot of good stuff to the team from the very beginning," Power said. "The experience of all three of us is really helping push the cars in the right direction. The beauty about driving for Penske is that you've got the resources to develop what you want."

Scott Dixon, the defending series champion who is ninth in points, will start 15th.

Dixon was seventh in the standings last season heading into Pocono when he took the checkered flag as part of a Ganassi podium sweep. He then swept the doubleheader at Toronto, and his three-race winning streak catapulted him into championship contention. He won again at Houston and clinched his third title at Fontana.

"Right now we're not as comfortable as we should be," Dixon said. "We've probably been a little bit aggressive in some areas; a lot of mistakes. Even I've made some mistakes.

"That's racing. It goes your way sometimes, and sometimes, it doesn't."

F1: Points leader Nico Rosberg earned the pole for today's British Grand Prix in Silverstone, England. He persevered on his final lap in drying conditions as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who had the fastest time to that point, aborted his lap and pulled into the pits. Hamilton qualified sixth. Four-time defending series champion Sebastian Vettel qualified second for Red Bull and McLaren's Jenson Button third.

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