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.
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.
“Take that,” he said to his difficult season. “That’s sticking it to them.”
RESULTS: Official Qualifying for Honda Indy 200
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.”
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.
“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.
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.