Power, who was also fastest in practice earlier in the day, opened his account with a 182.336 mph lap and backed it up with an extraordinary 183.089 mph the second time around for a two-lap average of 182.727 mph.
“Unbelievable,” said Power. “Amazing. I would never have been able to do this without Verizon and Penske. I’ve had such a fantastic run and they’ve given me a great run, and I can’t thank them enough. Chevy too, because a lot of those studs had a Chevy engine.”
His historic moment came at the expense of Marcus Ericsson, who also had a stellar two-lap race to provisionally claim the top spot with an average of 182.070 mph in the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and just two cars left to finish. to come. Worryingly for him, those cars belonged to Scott Dixon and Power, and while he was able to overcome his teammate’s challenge, Power’s laps were a bridge too far.
“I am very proud,” he said. “The race car was really good. We had a good practice and then we built on that. It’s the best qualifying of my IndyCar career, so I’m proud of that. When you’re so close to your first pole you really want it, but we’ll try to get it tomorrow.”
Josef Newgarden also lamented what could have been after a small mistake on his first flying lap. 182.520mph on lap two was a better illustration of the car’s potential, but he had to settle for third on the grid at 181.629mph.
“If I could have done a better first lap, I’m sure [I could have gotten pole],” he said. “The car was really capable. I wish I could redo it, but you can’t. We had a great car; the speed was there. We just have to put it to the best use tomorrow.”
His Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin posted a solid 181.046 mph to complete the second row, leaving Ganassi also lined up in pairs immediately behind them with Alex Palou and Scott Dixon in fifth and sixth, respectively.
Arrow McLaren SP’s hopes of a similar multi-car representation up front were derailed early when Felix Rosenqvist lost the No.7 Chevy in the middle of Turn 2. The Swede did a phenomenal job of keeping the car off the wall, but he has work to do. tomorrow night on a track where passing is not easy. Pato O’Ward salvaged seventh on the grid for the team with a 180.303mph run, but also felt he left something on the table. “I was a little too conservative in my career,” he said. “There was a little more grip available.”
Until the last seven cars came out, the session was ruled by Takuma Sato, who started relatively early (he was eighth in line) and posted a speed of 180.048mph which he wasn’t particularly happy with. “Honestly, I have a lot of slides,” he said. “Unfortunately, he was a bit messy.”
Messy or not, 11 other drivers tried unsuccessfully before O’Ward finally managed to knock the two-time Indy winner out of the provisional top spot.
Meanwhile, Andretti Autosport kept things tidy with a 9-10-11-12. Romain Grosjean was quickest of the pack, though he’ll add another nine places tomorrow thanks to a grid penalty for an unapproved engine change after Nashville. Taking his place will be Devlin DeFrancesco, who earned a career-best starting position of 10th based on speed, moving up to ninth thanks to Grosjean’s penalty.
“I’m very happy,” said the Canadian. “Very strong. When we tested here a week ago we thought we were decent but we knew we needed to make a profit and I think we came out of the truck really strong. It had been slipping away from us.”
UNTIL NEXT TIME: Practice 2, 7 p.m. ET