Will Power claimed pole position for IndyCar’s Indianapolis road course race, as his Penske team-mate and fellow three-time event winner Simon Pagenaud ended up only 20th on the grid.
Back on a road course for the first time this season, for qualifying the cars are divided into two groups of 12, with the top six from each advancing to the next session. From that 12, another session narrows the field to six cars that fight for pole.
The ‘Fast Six’ shootout was initially dominated by Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing, a surprise podium finisher here last year, as the team’s new association with Andretti Autosport and expansion to a full season paid dividends.
But Power delivered on his last flying lap, to take his fourth pole at the event. In the six years the Indy road course has been on the calendar, he has taken three poles and won those three races in turn.
Harvey held on for second under pressure from Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport driver Colton Herta, as two young drivers affiliated to Andretti snapped at the heels of 2014 champion Power.
Graham Rahal proved a steady performer through qualifying and took fourth, ahead of impressive rookie Oliver Askew.
He topped the first two sessions he took part in and was the first driver to dip under the 1m10s barrier on his IndyCar road course debut, the Indy Lights champion graduating with Arrow McLaren SP this year.
Double champion Josef Newgarden has never finished in the top 10 at this race.
He moved a step closer to beating that stat by taking sixth, albeit with a sloppy final lap where he locked up and went straight on at Turn 12 in a puff of rubber smoke.
Texas season-opener winner Scott Dixon and last year’s polesitter Felix Rosenqvist had a disappointing session for Chip Ganassi Racing – whose third car for Marcus Ericsson was only 14th.
Dixon and Rosenqvist start seventh and ninth, sandwiching Conor Daly, who switches to Ed Carpenter Racing from Carlin for road courses this year so is making his team debut this weekend.
Behind Rosenqvist, ex-Formula 1 driver Max Chilton marked his season debut – taking over the Carlin car from Daly – to take 10th, his preparation in F3 cars clearly paying off.
Pagenaud – vying for a fourth Indy road course win after a brilliant victory in the rain last year – ran in the second group in qualifying.
But the 2019 winner failed to make the top six from his group, the only Penske driver not able to do so.
He blamed understeer mid-corner on the red-walled, softer Firestone tyres. He’ll start 20th.
Saturday’s race happens just before the NASCAR Xfinity race – also run on the road course – as part of a historic triple header with the stock-car universe. NASCAR’s Cup Series will race on the Indy oval on Sunday.