Power takes history-making 67th IndyCar pole at Gateway

Will Power

Will Power has joined Mario Andretti as the equal most prolific pole-sitter in North American open-wheeler history with the 67th of his IndyCar career, at Gateway Motorsports Park.

In a big end to Qualifying at the third-last event of the season, Power extended his series lead by one point by setting a two-lap average of 182.727mph (294.071km/h).

The Team Penske driver will share the front row with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, while Row 2 is comprised of Josef Newgarden in third and Scott McLaughlin in fourth in the other two Penske Chevrolets.

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Ganassi’s other two title contenders lock out the third row, with Alex Palou fifth and Scott Dixon sixth in their Honda-powered machines, while Pato O’Ward is set to start seventh.

The latter’s McLaren SP team-mate Felix Rosenqvist, however, is rear of grid after crashing the #7 Chevrolet.

Like in Event 2 of the season at Texas Motor Speedway, qualifying was determined on the basis of average speed over a two-lap run for each driver, who went out in reverse entrant points order.

Devlin DeFrancesco was third out and put a significant gap between himself and those who had gone before him when he set a run average of 179.531mph (288.927km/h).

It took another five cars for the rookie to be knocked off provisional pole position, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato (Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing) setting the first 180-plus lap and going on to achieve an average of 180.048mph (289.759km/h).

After 13 cars had been through, Romain Grosjean finally took second spot from Andretti Autosport team-mate DeFrancesco when he drove to laps of 180.020mph (289.714km/h) and 179.830mph (289.408km/h) for an average of 179.925mph (289.605km/h).

However, the Frenchman has incurred a nine-position grid penalty for an unapproved engine change this weekend, meaning DeFrancesco was still provisionally on the front row as it stood.

That remained the case despite the best efforts of yet another Andretti driver, namely Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian), when he was 17th onto the circuit.

Herta threatened to upstage everyone when he went 179.751mph (289.281km/h) on Lap 1, but a big moment through Turn 3/Turn 4 on Lap 2 saw him slot into fourth position (effectively third) on a 179.347mph (288.631km/h) average.

Next up was Rosenqvist, who did lose his McLaren SP entry completely as he exited Turn 2 on his opening hot lap.

Fortunately for the Swede, the impact which he would make with the infield barriers was very light in relative terms, but the incident meant he had no lap time and hence is set to start last in the 26-car field.

Once the recovery crew removed Car #7 from the circuit, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi was released and he took up fourth position with a 179.420mph (288.749km/h) average, making for an all-Honda top eight.

O’Ward, in the other McLaren SP car, followed him onto the track and laid down a first lap of 179.958mph (289.614km/h), before turning the wick all the way up to a 180.650mph (290.728km/h) on his second lap, meaning an average of 180.303mph (290.170km/h) and a new provisional pole-sitter.

The Mexican had little time to enjoy bragging rights, however.

McLaughlin immediately blew him and everyone else out of the water with laps of 181.230mph (291.661km/h) and 181.581mph (292.226km/h) which equated to a run average of 181.406mph (291.945km/h).

Palou was also above 181mph on both of his laps, setting a 181.289mph (291.756km/h) all-told, leaving him second with just four to come.

Newgarden could ‘only’ set a 180.747mph (290.884km/h) first lap but dug deep on his second to get to 182.520mph (293.737km/h) and a new benchmark run average of 181.629mph (292.304km/h).

Ericsson had even more time in the #8 Honda, with a 181.901mph (292.741km/h) on Lap 1 and a 182.239mph (293.285km/h) on Lap 2, for a mean of 182.070mph (293.013km/h).

Last-start winner Dixon could not match the four who had gone before him, achieving a run of 180.954mph (291.217km/h), and then it was left to Power, who had set the pace earlier in Practice 1.

The Queenslander was up on his first qualifying lap, a 182.366mph (293.490km/h), and went even quicker again when he nailed a 183.089mph (294.653km/h) next time through.

As such, the top 10 in qualifying is Power, Ericsson, Newgarden, McLaughlin, Palou, Dixon, O’Ward, Sato, Grosjean, and DeFrancesco.

However, Grosjean’s grid penalty sees DeFrancesco promoted to ninth for the start, with Rossi to join his team-mate on Row 5 of the grid.

Top Line Practice takes place later today at 09:00 AEST and Final Practice, for the full field, at 09:45 AEST.

Stan Sport’s live and ad-free coverage resumes on Sunday morning at 08:00 AEST, with a green flag for the 260-lap race due at 08:30 AEST.

Results: Qualifying

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Lap 1 Lap 2 Total time Avg speed (mph)
1 12 Will Power D/C/F 24.6757 24.5782 0:49.2539 182.727
2 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F 24.7387 24.6929 0:49.4316 182.070
3 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 24.8967 24.6548 0:49.5515 181.629
4 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F 24.8303 24.7823 0:49.6126 181.406
5 10 Alex Palou D/H/F 24.8321 24.8125 0:49.6446 181.289
6 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F 24.8681 24.8683 0:49.7364 180.954
7 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F 25.0059 24.9101 0:49.9160 180.303
8 51 Takuma Sato D/H/F 24.9341 25.0525 0:49.9866 180.048
9 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F 24.9972 25.0237 0:50.0209 179.925
10 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F 25.0201 25.1104 0:50.1305 179.531
11 27 Alexander Rossi D/H/F 25.1104 25.0513 0:50.1617 179.420
12 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 25.0346 25.1474 0:50.1820 179.347
13 18 David Malukas D/H/F 25.1646 25.0701 0:50.2347 179.159
14 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F 25.1603 25.1815 0:50.3418 178.778
15 45 Jack Harvey D/H/F 25.1626 25.1800 0:50.3426 178.775
16 20 Conor Daly D/C/F 25.1575 25.2135 0:50.3710 178.674
17 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F 25.2192 25.1568 0:50.3760 178.657
18 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 25.2793 25.1815 0:50.4608 178.356
19 30 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F 25.3216 25.1935 0:50.5151 178.165
20 14 Kyle Kirkwood D/C/F 25.3211 25.2184 0:50.5395 178.079
21 48 Jimmie Johnson D/H/F 25.5457 25.4839 0:51.0296 176.368
22 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 25.5697 25.5132 0:51.0829 176.184
23 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F 25.5858 25.5491 0:51.1349 176.005
24 4 Dalton Kellett D/C/F 25.9029 25.8503 0:51.7532 173.902
25 33 Ed Carpenter D/C/F 25.9511 25.8721 0:51.8232 173.667
26 7 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F No Time 182.727

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