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Oriol Servia subs for concussed Will Power at St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The pole-winning car for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will start from the back of the grid Sunday with substitute driver Oriol Servia. Team Penske's Will Power was sidelined with a "mild concussion," according to IndyCar.

IndyCar also confirmed Power is in the concussion protocol and will not be allowed to race until he is cleared.

Power tweeted his disappointment:

Power set a track record Saturday to earn his sixth St. Petersburg pole in the past seven years. But he felt too ill to attend a subsequent news conference, and the symptoms worsened overnight.

Servia, a 41-year old Spaniard with nearly 200 Indy car starts, drove Power's No. 12 Chevrolet in the Sunday morning practice session and set the ninth-best time. With the 12:45 p.m. start looming, Team Penske made the decision to run Servia in the race at around 10:30 a.m.

"I feel terrible for Will and just hope he feels better soon, as he was my teammate a few years ago and he's a good friend," Servia said. "It's not the way you want to get the opportunity to drive for Team Penske, but it will be an honor to race for the team and drive the fastest car on the grid today."

Power endured a fraught opening weekend to the season in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He crashed in the Friday morning practice while adjusting the brake balance on his car, but he rebounded to set the fastest time in the Friday afternoon session.

On Saturday, Power lowered his existing St. Petersburg track record by 0.6 second in the second of three qualifying sessions, then remained fastest in the Firestone Fast Six at a track where he has won twice.

But he recognized early Sunday morning that he was in no shape to complete a 110-lap race in hot and humid conditions.

"Obviously this is a very difficult decision to make in the first race of the season, but Will's health and safety is the most important thing to consider," Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said. "We hope Will makes a speedy recovery, and with Oriol's professionalism and experience, we know he'll do a solid job for our team."

Servia's sole Indy car victory came at Montreal in 2005, driving in the Champ Car series for Newman/Haas Racing. His last full-time season in the IndyCar Series was in 2012.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.