By: Tanner Watkins
July 27, 2019 | 3:00 PM
Battling against the top three NTT IndyCar Series championship contenders in the Firestone Fast Six, Will Power flexed his muscle in grabbing the pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 by more than three-tenths of a second.
Power ripped off a lap of 1m5.1569s in the final round of qualifying to beat out Alexander Rossi for the pole by 0.3748 seconds. Team Penske as a whole continues to assert themselves this weekend, as Josef Newgarden (P3, 1m5.7885s) and Simon Pagenuad (P4, 1m5.8958s) joined Power in the first two rows.
Veteran Sebastien Bourdais will start alongside Felix Rosenqvist in row three. The two Honda drivers filled out the group of six that made it to the final round of qualifications.
In the first round of qualifying, perhaps the most disappointing result came as Spencer Pigot was just bumped from the cut line to make it into round two. Pigot, who will start 13th tomorrow, has been consistently inside the top five on the practice leaderboards this weekend and seemed poised to make his first “Fast Six” on a road course since Barber in April.
Other notables to miss the second round include hometown driver Graham Rahal (P15), his teammate Takuma Sato (P17), Marco Andretti (P19) and fellow Ohio native Zach Veach (P20).
The A.J. Foyt Racing duo of Matheus Leist (P21) and Tony Kanaan (P23) ended up 1.4 and 1.9 seconds off of Power’s pole time in qualifying at the end of the field. Sandwiched between the two was rookie RC Enerson, filling in for Carlin this week.
In the fight to make the Fast Six, another strong practice performer from this week just missed advancing to the final round: Colton Herta.
Herta led the last two practice sessions but was unable to be one of the six fastest drivers from round two, eventually slotting in as the first driver to get bumped from the final round. The Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver will start seventh on Sunday, alongside reigning series champion Scott Dixon in row four.
Dixon will need a strong run tomorrow afternoon to keep any glimmer of a championship repeat in his sights – the New Zealand native is 98 points back of Josef Newgarden, and even though there are double points on the line at the Laguna Seca season finale, the time to move is now.
Starting behind Herta and Dixon in row five will be Jack Harvey and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The ninth-place qualifying effort for Harvey is a spectacular result – his Meyer Shank Racing team had only competed at Road America since their efforts at Indianapolis, and this is a home race for Mike Shank and his organization.
Rounding out the first twelve were the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates of James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson, who will start 11th and 12th, respectively.
There will be one more opportunity for drivers to get a feel for their cars before the race on Sunday. A 30-minute warm-up session will be run at 12:30 PM tomorrow before the 4:00 PM Eastern start time for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Header image by James Black/INDYCAR.