INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power has been unbeatable at the INDYCAR Grand Prix when starting the Verizon IndyCar Series race from the pole position.
The Team Penske driver is looking to make it 3-for-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Saturday after collecting the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying. Power, who won the race from the pole in 2015 and ’17, earned the first starting position for a third time with a lap of 1 minute, 9.8182 seconds (125.761 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six climactic round of knockout qualifying on Friday.
It also marked the 51st pole of Power’s Indy car career to break a tie with teammate Helio Castroneves for third place on the all-time list. Mario Andretti is the career leader with 67 pole positions and A.J. Foyt had 53.
“We did have to dig deep,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. “I mean, that was everything I had. We made a downforce adjustment after the first round when we saw how fast the other guys were and kind of got close to them. And on used tires, the car was really good, so (I’m) stoked, man, really, really stoked!”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Robert Wickens missed winning his second Verizon P1 Award of the season by less than a tenth of a second. Driving the No. 6 Lucas Oil Honda, Wickens put in a lap of 1:09.9052 (125.604 mph) on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn permanent road course that will have the Canadian starting alongside Power on the front row. It was Wickens’ best qualifying effort since he won the pole in his Verizon IndyCar Series debut race, the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.
“I’m a bit gutted with P2,” Wickens said. “We’re obviously in the front row, but when you lead the whole qualifying, you want to finish like that.
“It was close. I ended up losing a few hundredths (of a second) in the end, but I can see why – it wasn’t the tidiest lap. You have to do the perfect job to get the pole here.”
Sebastien Bourdais qualified third in the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda (1:09.9449, 125.533 mph). It’s the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan driver’s best INDYCAR Grand Prix qualifying effort in five tries.
“I had a really good run and was P1 for a portion,” Bourdais said. “That was about as good of a lap as I was going to get. … It was a good run and just made a small mistake in the last run. Hats off to the team, they did a great job.”
James Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, had his best qualifying result of 2018 and will start fourth in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda (1:10.0858, 125.281 mph).
Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Jordan King qualified fifth in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet (1:10.1326, 125.197 mph), his best effort since earning the fourth starting spot at St. Petersburg. Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and current points leader Josef Newgarden will start sixth after posting a lap of 1:10.7276 (124.144 mph) in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
Simon Pagenaud – in 2014 and ’16 – is the only driver other than Power to win the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Pagenaud qualified seventh in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet.
Spencer Pigot, King’s teammate at Ed Carpenter Racing, advanced past the first round of road/street-course qualifying for the first time in his three-year career and will start ninth in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet.
Conversely, four-time series champion Scott Dixon failed to advance out of the first qualifying round for the first time in three years and will start 18th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Twenty-four cars will take the green flag in Saturday’s 85-lap race, with live coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Drivers have a final chance to dial in their cars with a 30-minute warmup practice at 11:15 a.m. that streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app.