Will Power dominated NTT IndyCar Series qualifying at Mid-Ohio to claim pole position for Sunday’s race.
The Australian reeled off a 1m05.1569s lap late in the session to secure what had previously looked like being a far more closely-contested top spot by more than 0.3s.
“It’s been such a bad year,” said a jubilant Power. “So disappointing, but I have such a fire in me when I do something like that so everyone whose had such a great year; just sticking it to them. It just beats you down when you have a year like this. It’s great for confidence. Feel so bad for my guys this year; I’ve made a few mistakes, so this was great.”
While Penske had looked strong throughout qualifying, it was Alexander Rossi – newly recommitted to Andretti Autosport – who emerged as his biggest threat for P1. Rossi ditched his first flying lap and pitted after running wide, but was immediately quick upon returning to the track. Ironically though, that instant speed might have worked against him.
“Will did a really slow first lap on his two-lap run, and I did two push laps in a row and I ultimately ran out of tire,” he said. “So a bit of a strategy call where they did better than us. But the guys did a great job, and the front row is a good place to start.”
Josef Newgarden, who came into the weekend with a narrow championship lead over Rossi, qualified third, but admitted to some concerns about being able to preserve his points advantage in the race.
“I think we still need to find something for the race,” he said. “We need to be better on black tires, so we’re going to look tonight to see if we can find some magic.”
Simon Pagenaud will line up alongside teammate Newgarden on the second row, leaving Sebastien Bourdais and Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist to round out the top six.
The qualifying rounds leading up to the Fast 6 were uniformly manic, with positions shuffling reshuffling right up until the final car broke the timing beam. Scott Dixon and practice pace-setter Colton Herta were among the late casualties of the second round.
“That’s the bad part about IndyCar, because you lose by so little,” said Herta. “But that makes the winning better, because you win by so little, too. [We] kind missed it a little bit. Happy to start seventh; always interesting with whether it’s two stops or three stops. The race car will be good, we were just missing that last tiny little bit on the reds.”
There were similar tales of heartbreak during the opening rounds, where several drivers in both groups missed the cut by hundredths of a second. Among them was Spencer Pigot, who’d starred in the ECR car on black tires during practice but had admitted to what proved to be some well-founded concerns about how he’d fare on the reds.
“It wasn’t an issue getting a clean lap,” said Pigot. “Just struggled on the reds. Didn’t get a run on them yesterday, so maybe we missed something. The car was good up until qualifying, so we’ll go back and take a look at it, and hopefully get it back up to where it should be.”
There were also disappointed faces around Rahal Letterman Lanigan, which had both of its cars eliminated in the opening round. In Graham Rahal’s case, the culprit was a gearing error.
“As a team we’re pretty disappointed,” said Rahal, who will start from 15th. “We expect better. Looks like gearing, even compared to Takuma [Sato], gearing cost us 0.2s down the straightaway in that session. So we just got it wrong.”
UP NEXT: Warm Up, Sunday, 12:00 p.m. ET.