Winning the Sao Paulo 300 for a fourth straight time became a lot harder for Will Power after a mishap in qualifying sent him to the back of the grid for Sunday's IndyCar race.
''It's going to be very tough,'' Power said. ''We would have to be lucky, have a lot of things going our way. It's hard when you are starting back there.''
The Australian, who won all three previous races in Brazil, will start only 22nd after his Penske team took a risk that turned costly for both of its drivers on Saturday.
Helio Castroneves, the points leader and a home-crowd favorite, will start 18th on the streets of Sao Paulo.
''Tough break today to not be able to qualify the way we wanted,'' Power said. ''We felt pretty good going into the qualifying and unfortunately didn't have time to run the lap we wanted.''
He and Castroneves dropped out of pole contention when Penske decided to try to take advantage of a faster track in the final minutes of the first qualifying session, but it turned out they never had a chance to post a fast lap after a mechanical problem with the car of James Jakes prompted a red flag.
Jakes' car stopped on the track with an apparent engine failure and the driver got out when it appeared the engine was on fire, forcing race officials to stop the section when the Penske drivers were in the middle of their fast lap.
''That's always the risk you take,'' four-time champion Dario Franchitti said. ''That's a risk we all take when we wait until the last possible moment to go on track. In order to gain that advantage of running at the end of the session, there's the risk of what happened to the Penske guys today. It's happened I think to all of us before. Today it happened to them.''
To Penske's advantage, both drivers ended up saving tires by not running the entire qualifying session and will have newer rubber compared to most of the field on Sunday. In addition, the Anhembi circuit is one of the few street tracks which could offer the type of passing opportunities that they will need to make.
''It's a long race and it's a nice track which will give us a chance to move up,'' Power said.
There's no doubt that Power knows his way around the temporary track. He was dominant the three times he won in Sao Paulo, and this time looked poised for another good weekend after leading both practice sessions earlier Saturday.
The Australian is in need of a good result in Brazil after struggling in the first three races of the year, leaving him eighth in the drivers' standings. Power was the pole winner in the season opening race in St. Petersburg and was in the front row in Alabama and in Long Beach, but he hasn't won in 14 races, since his victory in Sao Paulo last year.
''We'll just do the best we can tomorrow,'' he said.
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