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Will Power won the pole for Saturday's GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Al Steinberg photo)

Power Storms To 64th Career Pole

INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power stole the show from Alex Palou when the last driver on the race course scored career pole No. 64 during Friday’s qualifications for Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

That leaves the Team Penske driver just three poles behind Mario Andretti’s record of 67.

“It’s a privilege to be so close to him,” Power said. “He is a legend in this sport and to match him, or beat him, I would have never imagined that.”

It is also the sixth time that Power has won the pole on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS road course.

Power has won the GMR Grand Prix three times with one win in the Harvest Grand Prix in 2020 and last year in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix for five wins on this road course.

“That’s the fun of this series, it’s so tight,” Power said. “When you win a pole in this series, you’ve really done your job and the team really worked for this one.

“Man, I really worked hard for this one.”

Power has led 341 laps on this race course.

Palou appeared to be the star before Power grabbed the pole at the very end of the Fast Six session.

Palou led his all of the sessions leading into the Fast Six, before Power worked his magic on the IMS Road Course during the Fast Six.

In the first group, after laying down a “banker” lap on the Firestone Blacks, the field hit pit road with 4 minutes left to put on the faster Firestone Reds in an attempt to grab the pole late in the first session.

Palou was able to manhandle a loose car around the race course but improved to 1:09.5683 to put the No. 10 American Legion Honda on top. But that didn’t last long as Power’s Chevrolet took over the No. 1 spot at 1:09.5544.

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Will Power climbs from his car Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Al Steinberg photo)

When the session ended, Power’s Chevy remained on top followed by Palou’s 1:09.5683, Felix Rosenqvist’s Chevrolet at 1:09.6831, Josef Newgarden’s Chevy at 1:09.7151, Jack Harvey’s Honda at 1:09.7910 and Romain Grosjean’s Honda at 1:9.8214.

Failing to advance into the second round were Takuma Sato’s Honda, defending GMR Grand Prix winner Rinus VeeKay in the No. 21 Chevrolet. He will start 15th on Saturday.

“We were fastest on the Blacks by a mile, then we went to Reds and was happy on the lap, but I’m very confused right now,” VeeKay said. “I don’t know what we did wrong.

“We were not miles off with the balance. I have no words right now. I don’t know what went wrong here.”

Other drivers who did not advance including Devlin De Francesco, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Tatiana Calderon.

“I’m frustrated, man, everybody can see that,” Dixon said. “It’s a different car every time we go out. It sucks right now, but we have to sort it out.

“When you qualify this far back, it’s horrendous.”

Pato O’Ward was the fastest driver in the second group of segment one at 1:09.4708 in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

Other drivers that advanced in order included Scott McLaughlin’s Chevrolet at 1:09.5511, Christian Lundgaard’s Honda at 1:09.6777, Callum Ilott’s Chevy at 1:09.7025, Conor Daly’s Chevrolet at 1:09.7210 and Graham Rahal’s Honda at 1:09.7458.

Failing to advance were Colton Herta’s Honda, Alexander Rossi’s Honda, Marcus Ericsson’s Honda, Simon Pagenaud’s Honda, Kyle Kirkwood’s Chevy, David Malukas’ Honda, Dalton Kellett’s Chevy, and Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet.

“We’re hit or miss around here and an easy top-five and other times we miss it,” Rossi said. “Today, we missed it.

“Since we come here twice a year here, this race is the cool race and July, and August is hot. We’ve seen guys in the past at Barber that are able to race forward and that’s what we will try to do on Saturday.”

Herta said his car was missing “quite a bit.”

“I was really happy with my car is practice two, but we must have really missed the mark on tires,” Herta said. “We’ll make sure we have a fast race car for Saturday.

“It’s pretty difficult to overtake here.”

Johnson said it was the fastest lap he has run on the IMS road course, but it wasn’t fast enough to advance.

In the second segment, the action heated up with two minutes left in the session and 12 cars on track. Palou once again looked like he had a loose race car but was able to translate that into speed.

He turned the quickest lap of qualifying at 1:09.4144 with 58 seconds left in the session.

With 35 laps left, Power was on a flyer and was able to race his way into the “Fast Six” in fourth place.

Palou was the fastest ahead of Rosenqvist’s 1:09.4379, O’Ward’s 1:09.4574, Power’s 1:009.4905, Newgarden’s 1:09.5837 and Daly’s 1:09.6387.

Failing to advance into the Fast Six were Ilott, Lundgaard, Harvey, Grosjean, McLaughlin and Rahal.

 

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