INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Here’s a declaration of the obvious: Will Power is good at qualifying.
Not just good, but ridiculously good.
Power claimed his third pole position in five Verizon IndyCar Series races this season by setting a track record Friday in qualifying for today’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It is the 47th pole position of Power’s 13-year career. To put that in perspective, only four people have more pole positions in Indy car history. One is named Mario Andretti. Another is named A.J. Foyt.
Why is Power so good at qualifying? And why in particular is he so good this season? The answer comes down to preparation.
“It’s just about putting the details and the laps together,” Power said. “We’ve definitely worked harder this year at getting the car to work better for me (in qualifying) than we have in the past.”
Power was clocked at 1 minute, 7.7044 seconds (129.687 mph) around IMS’ 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course Friday in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. That broke the record he set last year by nearly a full second. It was the 250th Indy car pole position in Team Penske’s storied history, which includes all five Verizon P1 Awards this season.
The trick to being fast at qualifying, Power says, is quite simple: It’s not a race. It’s simply about speed.
“It’s just about ultimate speed,” Power said. “It’s just pace, speed. I wish I could use that more in the races. It’s a pity you can’t. … If we could just go out and go hard all the time, that would be fantastic. You can use your speed in the race at times, but it’s not like you can just go flat all the time.”
Andretti holds the record for career poles with 67, followed by Foyt with 53 and Bobby Unser at 49. The only other driver ahead of Power on the all-time list is his Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, also with 49.
The two have a bit of a back-and-forth on poles this season. Power won the pole for the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, and Castroneves followed with the pole at Long Beach, California. Power answered by starting first at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, before Castroneves took the No. 1 spot at Phoenix. Power has plans to end the exchanging pole sequence in Indianapolis 500 qualifying May 20-21.
"It's been me, Helio, me, Helio, me," Power said. "Then we're going to switch it up. (For the Indianapolis 500) it's going to start me again, Helio, me. ... I'm going to stop the alternation here in like a week or so."
Power won the INDYCAR Grand Prix from the pole two years ago. He and teammate Simon Pagenaud – who won in 2014 and ’16 – are the only drivers to see the checkered flag first in the event. Live coverage of today’s 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. ET on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.
The INDYCAR Grand Prix is the fifth of 17 races on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Pagenaud, the reigning series champion, leads the standings again with an 18-point advantage on Scott Dixon heading into today’s race.
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