Power sets career pole record on Eve of Title Showdown

Power sets career pole record on Eve of Title Showdown

Will Power wrote a new chapter in INDYCAR SERIES history a day before he could write his name in the annals of the sport as series champion for the second time.

Power broke Mario Andretti’s record with his 68th career pole in Saturday’s NTT P1 Award qualifier for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

Power, 41, of Toowomba, Australia, drove to his class-leading fifth pole in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, polishing his legend and starting from the perfect position as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship leader going into Sunday’s season finale. at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

TO SEE: Qualifying Results | Qualification Highlights

“Tomorrow is such a big day that I can’t celebrate much because I have to be so focused on tomorrow,” said Power. “Great milestone. To be there with an iconic man like Mario is amazing. When I think about the era he raced in, how dangerous it was and how much more risky it was, I’m surprised to be there with Mario.”

Said Andretti: “Great. I know how much I loved qualifying, and I can tell it’s the same. Trying to get the rounds and trying to do what you know you can’t repeat. That’s what puts you on pole position. The (lost record) was coming. It is beautiful. It’s great for the series and the sport. Records are made to be broken, and that’s with a good man.”

Power’s best lap in the Firestone Fast Six was 1 minute, 11.6127 seconds. Rookie Callum Ilott will join him on the front row of the 95-lap race Sunday (2:40 p.m. ET, NBC; 3 p.m. ET, Telemundo Deportes on Universo and INDYCAR Radio Network) after taking a career-best second place at 1:11.6320 in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.

The pole gave Power more than just a big chunk of history. He will also receive a bonus point when the race starts tomorrow, which could be crucial as he looks to maintain his 20-point lead over Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and win a second season championship over his teammate. to guide. 2014 title. Marcus Ericsson (-39) of CGR and Scott McLaughlin (-41) of Team Penske also qualify for the championship on Sunday.

Power was the only member of the title-winning quintet to advance to the Firestone Fast Six, setting an even clearer path for his championship hopes on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile track where passing is difficult due to the challenging lay-out. out and low-grip, highly abrasive surface.

McLaughlin was the best of the rest of the title contenders, qualifying eighth at 1:11.6916 in the #3 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet after going off the track at Turn 4 on the second qualifying lap. Ericsson qualified 10th after a spin in the famous “Corkscrew” corner on lap two and finished with a best lap of 1:12.1359 in the number 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Dixon and Newgarden will have a lot of work to do to win the Astor Challenge Cup on Sunday, after neither driver made it through the first round.

Six-time champion Dixon starts 13th after his best lap of 1:12.1722 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon and every other driver except Newgarden in the first qualifying group of the first lap were forced into a one-lap showdown for position when Newgarden activated a red flag, lost his two fastest laps and lost his chance to advance through a curb in the back. “Corkscrew” and turn off the track.

Two-time series champion Newgarden will start 25th in the field of 26 cars in the #2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Of the other four drivers in the Firestone Fast Six, Alexander Rossi qualified third at 1:11.7698 in the No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda, with Andretti Autosport teammate Romain Grosjean fourth at 1:11.7858 in the No.28. DHL Honda.

Alex Palou, whose reign as series champion lasts one day, qualified fifth at 1:12.1625 in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Pato O’Ward completed the Firestone Fast Six at 1:12.4542 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Ilott was the best rookie qualifier, but has already been eliminated from the Rookie of the Year competition. The two drivers vying for that honour, David Malukas and Christian Lundgaard, qualified seventh and 16th respectively. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Lundgaard leads Dale Coyne Racing with HMD driver Malukas by five points in the standings.

A 30-minute warm-up session at noon ET Sunday will precede the race, with live coverage on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

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