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After 57th pole, Power eager to capture first Mid-Ohio win

by racedaysaeditor | Posted on Saturday, July 27th, 2019

Courtesy of the NTT IndyCar Series

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Will Power scored the 57th pole of his NTT IndyCar Series career Saturday, drawing him another step closer to Mario Andretti’s record of 67. But what the Team Penske driver wants more than anything is his first win of the season.

Will Power. Photo by Chris Jones

Power has won Indy car races in 12 consecutive seasons, second only to five-time series champion Scott Dixon’s 16. Power’s last win came last year – 14 races ago – at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, the short oval located in Madison, Ill.

Power won Saturday’s NTT P1 Award with a lap of 1 minute, 5.1569 seconds (124.757 mph), and he followed that with a primal scream from the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.

RESULTS: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio qualifying

“Take that,” he said to his difficult season. “That’s sticking it to them.”

Will Power. Photo by Chris Owens

Power went on to say he was happier than he could explain. The pole was his first since the opening two races of the season, earning the top qualifying spot at the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. and then at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

“Just after the year we’ve had – even the past couple of weeks – it’s been bloody terrible,” Power said in referencing the street race in Toronto and the oval race at Iowa Speedway. “It’s been a couple of mistakes by me. I was determined to get pole here and equally so to win the race.

“It beats you down a bit when you have constant bad runs and things just don’t flow your way. There’s always a turning point; that’s the good news. When you have a bad race there’s a good chance the next one will be good. If 10 of them like mine haven’t been good, well, the next one will definitely be good.”

Will Power. Photo by Chris Jones

Power believes a breakthrough is inevitable if not divine.

“There’s going to have to be, with the speed we’ve got, a point where God just says, ‘Let him have it.'”

Hours after being confirmed to a multi-year extension with Andretti Autosport, 2018 NTT IndyCar Series championship runner-up Alexander Rossi qualified second in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. Rossi earned his sixth front-row start of the season, but he was nearly four-tenths of a second slower than Power after “a pretty big slide” through Turns 4 and 5.

Josef Newgarden. Photo by Chris Owens

“I think we just ran out of tire,” he said of the lap of 1:05.5317 (124.044 mph). “You’re always disappointed if you miss (pole) by one or two hundredths because there’s a lot of things you can look back on over the lap to see things you could have done differently. But when it’s a gap of that size it’s OK.”

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden, the series leader by 29 points over Rossi, will start Sunday’s 90-lap race in the third position after posting a lap of 1:05.7885 (123.560 mph) in the No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet. Teammate Simon Pagenaud will join Newgarden on the second row after a lap of 1:05.8958 (123.358 mph)in the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet.

Alexander Rossi. Photo by Chris Owens

Sebastien Bourdais, who ran 1:06.2040 (122.784 mph) in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, also reached the Firestone Fast Six along with Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Felix Rosenqvist, who qualified his No. 10 Clover Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:06.4914 (122.253 mph) and in the sixth and final position among the final group.

As part of Rossi’s contract renewal, Andretti Autosport announced it will continue to partner with Honda Performance Development, which the organization has worked with since the beginning of the 2014 season. Andretti Autosport has won five Indianapolis 500s with HPD, the most by any team in Honda’s history.

Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 will air on NBC at 4 p.m. ET. Radio broadcasts of the race will be available on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM on Sirius 98, XM 209 and SXM 970.

Highlights from today’s qualifying session can be found on INDYCAR’s YouTube channel at the following link: https://youtu.be/bZWVU3mHBRk.

‘What They’re Saying’ from Honda Indy 200 qualifying at Mid-Ohio

Top 10 Qualifiers:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I have such a fire burning in me when I do a lap like that. So happy to get the pole. So happy. It’s great for confidence for me and for my guys. I feel so bad for my guys. I’ve made some mistakes, so it was good to pay those guys back with some positive energy, and for our supporters as well for all the effort they put in. It’s been a tough year. I had a lot of energy to get pole today. I really want to win a race now. The things that haven’t gone our way…it just starts to wear on you. For me, it just makes me faster and more aggressive that leads to mistakes. That was just a really neat, hard lap to put in. Not a sector was wrong. I studied all the data I could all week long to understand how to do every sector as perfect as possible.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “Good day and good qualifying result for us on the PPG Chevy team. To qualify first, third and fourth is about as good as you can do, so great job overall by Team Penske. You could see how our work from the test we had here made a difference. Chevy’s done a phenomenal job – the last three or four weeks we’ve just been on it. That gives us a lot of confidence on the PPG car that we can tap into that consistency and have a strong result tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Looking back at (qualifying), Will (Power) did a really slow first lap of his two-lap run and I did two push laps in a row. I think I ran out of tire because they were used Firestones by the time I got halfway through the lap and that’s where the deficit came from. A little bit of a strategy call they made better than us, but I think our race car is great. The boys have done a really good job overnight. We struggled yesterday. The NAPA Andretti Honda boys put their heads together and made it happen today and the front row is a good place to start.

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “Awesome result for Team Penske to have three cars in the (Firestone) Fast Six and congratulations to Will (Power) for winning the pole. I really thought we would be able to get a front row starting spot with the Menards Chevy, but I think I affected the strategy a little too much and we didn’t have the right tires on the car at the end. Tomorrow, we’ll go racing hard. It’s going to be an exciting race with all the championship contenders starting at the front, so it should be a lot of fun to watch.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda):  “The SealMaster Honda No. 18 is strong and has been strong all weekend. A very solid effort by the whole Dale Coyne Vasser-Sullivan team. The first run was perfect. It was just about as good a run as I could do. I may have had a little bit more in it, I overshot one corner, but I could bring the tires perfectly where I wanted them to be. In the second round, the No. 60 car went off the track in Turn 2 and threw a lot of dirt on the track when I was on my hot lap. So I had to abort that lap and go again. In the Firestone Fast Six, we re-ran the tires from the second round. The sun came out a little too early for us and the hotter track temperature hurt us a little bit. We lost a bit of grip. When you are first in the first round you want to do more, but I’m happy with fifth especially after last year.”   

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 Clover Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think we had a great session and I’m really happy with the results. Obviously, you want to do better in the third round, but for whatever reason, the tires just weren’t there and there was nothing left to get from them. I was happy with the second qualifying round on both primary and alternate (Firestone) tires and I felt we nailed that and the times we were able to achieve. We just need to work a little harder in that final segment to compete with the guys who were up there at the top going for pole. I’m confident we can get there and think we have a good Clover car for the race tomorrow afternoon.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda): “We just came up a little short today in qualifying. The car was good, but we lost a little bit of speed on the last run in Round 2. We went fastest on our first timed lap, which is odd because no one has done that at Mid-Ohio before. The No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda guys qualified seventh, which is still a great starting position here, and we can do a lot with that during the race tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I definitely felt off. It will be interesting to see what the No. 10 car (Felix Rosenqvist, teammate) did there in qualifying (sixth). It was just hard for us. On the initial turn in for us, we had a lot of understeer and the car was very snappy off the corner. We went fairly different as a result of how the practice went this morning, so the No. 10 went one route and we went another. Maybe we just went a little too far. Either way, good job by Felix to get into the (Firestone Fast Six) shootout for the team.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM Honda): “I am really happy with a top-10 start. We are only a part-time team, but we are competitive like a full-time team. I know how important this race is for everyone at Meyer Shank Racing and we have put ourselves in a good position to have a great race day. My goal is to make everyone that is here to support us as well as our partners, AutoNation and SiriusXM, proud. We are right in the window to have success and I know that the MSR guys can put together a great car for me to be competitive tomorrow.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “After (Practice 1), we knew we needed some speed, so we threw some setup changes at it. I think the car was pretty decent. We advanced on to the top 12 and then got too aggressive with the front of the car and missed the (Firestone) Fast Six. We just came up a bit shy today, but still inside the top 10 and we’ll do our best to turn that into a fight for the DHL team.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical):

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 UniFirst / Curb Honda): “We wanted more out of qualifying but didn’t have the setup to get us there. We were loose on entry and couldn’t pick up the speed. We need to concentrate on containing the back (of the car) for the race and get creative with strategy to move our way up.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “Obviously compared to last year, where we got through to the Firestone Fast Six, it looks like we’ve made a step backwards but I think last year we just kind of scraped through because of red flags. I truly believe we had more pace today than we did last year. It’s just super close out there. You know, three tenths would’ve gotten me comfortably into the Firestone Fast Six. I really maximized everything I could. We didn’t get a run on reds (Firestone alternate tires) yesterday, so that was really my first red run of the weekend. I think if I knew what I know now on the reds, we might have been able to get (Scott) Dixon with those two tenths we were just shy of. When we’re only two tenths off of Ganassi car, I think we can be proud of the job we did. We’re in a good place for tomorrow and I’m hoping we can bring home a good result for the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet.”

RC ENERSON (No. 31 Lucas Oil School Carlin Chevrolet): “That wasn’t quite the qualifying result we were looking for. I think we definitely had a little more pace than we showed today and we really just need to dial the car in just a little bit more. The temperature change and the major difference between reds (Firestone alternate tires) and blacks (Firestone primary tires) really caught me off guard today, especially not being on reds for a really long time. We need to make some changes and improvements before green flag tomorrow, but the No. 31 Lucas Oil School Carlin Chevrolet feels really strong in traffic. We’ll have warmup tomorrow to find out a little bit more and make a few tweaks, but I’m confident heading to green flag tomorrow.” 

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I thought it was a pretty good day from our side. We went for a bit of a different strategy for qualifying to go for two sets of reds (Firestone alternate tires). I think that worked out. The problem all year for me has been to get the feeling on new tires, especially the red ones, and we don’t have many chances to try them out when you don’t get them for tests and only like once in the race weekend before qualifying. It’s been our – mainly my – problem all year to get that feeling that I’m looking for. I thought it was a good thing to try to use two sets of reds in Round 1 to allow me to build some confidence on the first run and then be able to execute on the second run. I think that showed – we were P2 in our group and had the pace to be right up there with the front runners. Of course, the downside with that strategy is that for Round 2 we only had used tires. We were still running up there when everyone else was on used tires, which showed that we had the pace, but then, obviously, everyone had a set of new tires to put on at the end and we didn’t, so we dropped back to 12th. I still feel like that was a good effort. The Arrow SPM car was handling well, and from 12th, we can have a really good race. We know how strong we are on race day like we’ve been all year, so I think we can have a really good day tomorrow.”  

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda): “At the Mid-Ohio track, everyone is so close. We just missed it by a bit with our No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda and lost a little time everywhere. Also, being a rookie here and not having the chance to really run the reds (Firestone alternate tires) yesterday in Practice 2 (due to red flags) kind of hurt us today. Had we had more time with them, we would have known to put a little more front wing in it. That said, we’ve started there before and we’ve made some good things happen, so we’ll have to do it again.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda):“Disappointing qualifying for us. Unfortunately, on our second lap, somebody drove off in front of us and put some dirt on the track, so that cost us a bit of time. Ultimately, we didn’t have the best balance on the reds (Firestone alternate tires). The Arrow SPM car is really good on the blacks (Firestone primary tires), though, so we’ll see tomorrow morning after warmup what tires are going to be the best for the race. We’re sort of hoping blacks because we’ve been competitive on them all weekend, but we’ve got a bit more work to do tomorrow than we were hoping.”  

ED JONES (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet): “We certainly made improvements on the black (Firestone primary) tires over the course of the weekend. However, not being able to run the reds (Firestone alternate) yesterday really cost us quite a bit, as we didn’t know what to expect. It’s not usually very easy to overtake here, but hopefully we are able to make some positions up.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Too many things happening, but I don’t think we found the setup. I thought we did. We were planning to do three laps. We got caught in traffic – but that’s nobody’s fault – and we ended up only doing two. When that happens, we’re not set up for that, the tire pressures aren’t set up for that, none of that. It was just not a good day. We only have one way to go and that’s moving to the front. We have warmup tomorrow, and hopefully, we’ll do a better job tomorrow than we did today.” 

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Disappointing qualifying today, very disappointing, considering we were running in or near the top 12 most of the time here. The car felt pretty good for most of the run, but we are lacking getting the speed out of the car. We have one more practice tomorrow to figure it out before the race.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet):
 “Qualifying was really frustrating. We seemed to be really quick through the weekend, but we obviously didn’t have it there on red (Firestone alternate) tires. We didn’t get a run on them yesterday, so that did not help us. We’ll have to take a look at it and see where we can improve for tomorrow.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda): “Four cars were within six-hundredths of a second in our group and we weren’t on the right end of that to progress to Round 2. Obviously, we’re disappointed to not be faster. Gearing cost us two-tenths alone just down the straightaways. We’re going to have to find more speed for tomorrow. We made progress this morning from yesterday and we hoped to continue that in qualifying. We won from 13th here, so we’re just going to have to try to do the same from 15th.”   

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “We’re just not quite there on the setup. We made some improvements from practice, but it seems like we need more speed. We want to try a few things in the warmup to make the car faster, and then we will try to work our way forward in the race.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “It was a frustrating day. We missed it again. We have really been struggling getting the right feeling underneath us. It’s going to be a frustrating race starting where we are on the grid. It is how this year has gone. We just need to figure out how to make changes that will allow us to move forward.”

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