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For Power, qualifying at Mid-Ohio is no sweat

IndyCar driver Will Power won qualifying for Sunday's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course without breaking a sweat.

At least that's what he told second-place qualifier Dario Franchitti after touring the 2.258-mile course at 123.825 mph.

Franchitti (123.360) emerged from his helmet with the bridge of his nose red and raw, and with sweat dripping. He looked at fellow top qualifiers Simon Pagenaud (third), Alex Tagliani (fourth) and Scott Dixon (fifth) and smiled.

"I'm glad everyone else is sweating," he said. "I was afraid it was just me."

It was at that moment that Power joined the group, and quipped, "I'm not sweating."

Instead, he was feeling quite good and looked relaxed as he related how his final lap went.

"[There was] a lot of energy in that lap," said Power, who drives the No. 12 Penske Chevrolet. "It's so bloody quick around here. Man, I got out of the car, I felt dizzy. Probably held my breath through a lot of the lap.

"I was determined to get a pole because I know track position is really important around here, and I know the weather can play a part in having a mixed-up race tomorrow [Sunday]."

Saturday's qualifying was run on a hot, slippery track on a mostly sunny morning. The forecast for Sunday calls for a 70 percent chance of rain.

"It could be a crazy race with the weather," said Dixon, who has won three of the last five races here. "The surface of the track is pretty strange on a good day. Even this morning it was hard to match the bravery of youth. Rain will make it even worse. The track is really slippery and I think you'll see a lot of yellows if we have rain."

Tagliani, who drives for Bryan Herta Autosports, said rain would promote the possibility of more yellows and result in more restarts on a slippery course.

"So, we are hoping that, you know, if it's wet, it's going to dry out at some point," Tagliani said. "I think with this car and with the push-to-pass, we can have a really nice race for the fans out there."

Push-to-pass means if a driver has the opportunity to pass he can push a button in the car and get an additional power boost to his engine for up to 20 seconds. A driver who is about to be passed can also use the button to defend. A driver has a total of 120 seconds to use during the race and it is up to him to decide how he wants to use it.

Saturday, while talking about the prospect of rain, several drivers said they believe rain would negate the push-to-pass advantage for a driver on the defensive.

"Well, it's going to take away obviously the ability of the leading car to use it in a defensive way," Franchitti said. "You're going to have to plan, you know, if you think the guy is close enough, you're going to have to plan it going into turn two or whatever.

"It's one of those things; we'll be [ticked] off if we are the only ones getting passed, and we'll be happy if we're the ones doing the passing. Usual stuff."

Power's lap Saturday was only three-tenths of a second off the IndyCar circuit record set by Franchitti in 1999 and matched by Gil de Ferran in 2000.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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