INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Will Power will start from the pole Saturday at Indianapolis after posting the fastest lap in morning qualifying.
The Australian driver from Team Penske posted a fast lap of 1:08.9767 to earn his fifth career pole on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’s his fifth pole this season and the 61st career pole, which is second all-time behind Mario Andretti (67).
Colton Herta starts second after going 1:09.1017. The 20-year-old Floridian finished fourth Friday after running near the front for most of the 85-lap race.
“We made a lot of changes last night,” Power said, explaining he was not satisfied with Friday’s car. “We were pretty weak so we did what we needed to do based on what the temperature and wind would do in the race. Stoked to be on the pole again and we’ll see what we can do today.”
But the bigger story may be Scott Dixon’s continuing struggle.
The New Zealand driver came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a 72-point lead over defending series champ Josef Newgarden and a chance to clinch his sixth championship for team owner Chip Ganassi.
Instead, Newgarden, Power’s teammate, earned a bonus point by qualifying on the front row Thursday, when Dixon qualified 12th. And when Newgarden won Friday’s race , with Dixon finishing ninth, the lead was trimmed to 40 points with two races remaining.
Now, after qualifying ninth, the Tennessean and two-time series champ could get even closer. Dixon qualified 15th for the 75-lap race that will be run in chilly, sunny conditions and could come down to fuel strategy.
“It will take more horsepower we’ll use more in these conditions, where as in July it would have been easy to do a two-stop race,” Power said.
IndyCar’s season finale is scheduled for Oct. 25 at St. Petersburg.
Before qualifying began, series officials also announced they were teaming up some corporate partners to help expand the operations of NXG Youth Motorsports, which introduces minority students to motorsports, with more than $500,000 in additional funding. The organization will receive a permanent garage at the speedway, brand new tools from Snap-on and the money will help create a yearlong curriculum for students.
It’s part of IndyCar’s Race for Equality and Change initiative that was introduced earlier this year.
Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. which oversees the series, also announced Jimmie McMillian has been named chief diversity officer for IndyCar. He’s been a senior corporate counsel for the speedway and the series since 2016.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports