By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Will Power earned his 49th career Verizon IndyCar Series pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, tying him with Bobby Unser for fourth on the all time pole list.
Power leads teammate Josef Newgarden on the front row while Honda occupies the second row with Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal starting third and fourth, respectively. 2015 Mid-Ohio winner Graham Rahal and five time Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon start fifth and sixth, respectively.
Qualifying began with the first group of round one, with the fastest six drivers advancing. Simon Pagenaud, Sato, Castroneves, Esteban Gutierrez, James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly advanced to the second round.
That left Charlie Kimball, Ed Jones and JR Hildebrand on the outside as was Tony Kanaan who lost his fastest lap because he caused a local yellow.
The top ten drivers of group two all had times that would have advanced them in the first group but track conditions change very rapidly. That allowed Rahal, Newgarden, Power, Alexander Rossi, Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay to advance Marco Andretti, Spencer Pigot, Max Chilton, Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin did not advance to round two.
The Firestone Fast Six to advance from round two were Rahal, Sato, Newgarden, Power, Castroneves and Dixon as Rossi, Hunter-Reay, Pagenaud, Gutierrez, Hinchcliffe and Daly would not go on.
Power didn’t know what kind of car he had going into qualifying, which might’ve surprised him.
“In practice, it’s really difficult to get a clean lap,” Power said. “Kind of unsure going into qualifying after today’s practice. We didn’t get any good laps to understand the car. Yeah, it always changes when you get to qualifying. [You’ve] got to make the most of it. That’s what I always do. Seems to work. It’s what I did this time. The car had a really good balance on used tires at the end,” Power added.
Newgarden tied his best start at Mid-Ohio with a second.
“If we have just I think a good start, that goes a long way,” Newgarden said. “Got to get through the first corner, which is turn four, cleanly. If we can do that, get going, I feel good that we’re going to have the pace and we’re going to have the strategy to get it done,” Newgarden said.
The biggest threat has to be Dixon, though. The New Zealander has numerous wins at Mid-Ohio, including one from last starting position.
“In the cool conditions this morning, I thought the car was fairly decent on the new tire,” Dixon said. “We had some traffic, which I think we gave up a lot. As the heat came into the track, the ambient was still pretty cool today,” Dixon added.
The Honda Indy 200 goes green Sunday at 3:45 ET.