A fixture up front in qualifying on permanent road courses last season, it’s no surprise to see Will Power atop the leaderboard following three practices Friday for the INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of The Americas.
Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, posted the best lap of the day in the second of the three sessions, when most teams first tried a set of the softer, faster Firestone alternate tires. The 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner soared around the spectacular 3.41-mile circuit in 1 minute. 47.4401 seconds (114.259 mph).
“It’s a difficult track, very technical, hard to get the car right,” said Power, whose 35 career wins are tied for seventh most in Indy car history. “I felt like we got in a pretty good window that session. Felt like we found where we need to be.”
“I thought when I looked at the Firestone Fast Six and where we stacked up, I thought the only chance we have at getting pole is if we do one lap of fuel and one lap on old (Firestone alternate) tires, and do that twice,” Power said. “And that’s what we did, so it paid off.”
Power, the only Chevrolet-powered driver to reach the final round of qualifications on Saturday, is also eligible to collect a $100,000 bonus from track officials if he can win Sunday’s 60-lap race from the pole position. Live coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Alexander Ross will join Power on the front row for Sunday’s race after qualifying second on Saturday. The Andretti Autosport driver turned a Firestone Fast Six lap of 1:46.1761 (115.619 mph) in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. Rossi’s teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was third in the No. 28 DHL Honda (1:46.3228, 115.460 mph).