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Power Earns Pole For Indy Speedway Road Race

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 14 2022

Will Power streaks to the pole on Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield road circuit. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Eighteen-plus years into his INDYCAR career, Will Power still has that “fire in the belly” when it comes to putting together a pole-winning qualifying lap.

Power began open-wheel racing’s tradition-bound “Month of May” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday afternoon by winning the NTT P1 Award for Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix on the IMS Road-Course. Power, of Team Penske, claimed his 64th career INDYCAR pole on his final lap around the 2.439-mile/14-turn layout.

Power’s hot lap of 1 minute, 9.7664-seconds/125.854 mph left the native Australian three poles short of tying the all-time series record of 67 set by icon Mario Andretti.

“I feel so privileged to get so close to him,” said Power, 40, driver of the No. 12  Team Penske Chevrolet. “I never thought I’d get there. Yes, three away…he’s (Mario) an absolute legend of the sport. It would be such an honor to match or surpass him. To be up there with names like Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt is something I wouldn’t have imagined when I started my career.”

This was Power’s first road or street course pole since the 2020 season-finale at St. Petersburg, Fla. Power is the fifth different pole-winner in five NTT IndyCar Series races this season.

“This series, it’s so tight,” said Power, who began his tenure at Team Penske with a six-race schedule in 2009. “So, to get a pole these days, you know you’ve done a really good job. And the team has done a great job. I’m super-stoked. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a pole on a road-course. I worked hard on that one.

Driver Will Power is congratulated by Team Penske’s Tim Cindric after their car won the pole at the Indy road circuit on Friday.

“It has become incredibly hard to get poles. It’s just a different guy each week who gets it all together. It’s hard to get more than two (poles) a year. Two or three you would be doing a good job. Yep, we’ll keep chipping away. Don’t really think about it all that much. I just try to do the best I can, and I know it’s there. I know there’s that record there, but honestly, I feel pretty blessed to have got so close. I never expected to get that close.”

Meanwhile, after careful monitoring of likely weather conditions in the Indianapolis area this afternoon, INDYCAR officials have moved up the start time of today’s 85-lap GMR Grand Prix to 3:07 p.m. (ET). Fans are encouraged to follow INDYCAR social media (@INDYCAR on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) for further updates.

Starting time for the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race 2 also has been moved up, with the green flag for INDYCAR’s developmental series to wave at 1:05 p.m.

Live coverage of the GMR Grand Prix will begin at 3 p.m. on NBC, Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Coverage of Race 2 of the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis also will be available via Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion and current point-leader Alex Palou of Spain will share the front row with Power after his lap of 1:09.8090 in the No. 10 Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.

Power’s teammate, two-time series champ Josef Newgarden, will start third after a lap of 1:09.8343 in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. Conor Daly earned his best starting spot of the season by qualifying fourth at 1:09.9063 in the No. 20 Chevrolet.

Native Mexican Pato O’Ward, who paced the afternoon practice, will start fifth after a best lap of 1:10.0546 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, with teammate Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden rounding out the Firestone Fast Six at 1:10.0605 in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Power, the 2018 Indy 500 winner and 2014 series champ, said more goes into qualifying than simply strapping-in and hunkering down for a hero-lap.

“Yeah, I mean, originally early in my days I used to say anyone can learn to do this. But after 20 years of high-level driving or more, I don’t believe that anymore,” said Power, who began his domestic open-wheel career in 2005 in the Champ Car World Series with Team Australia. “I think you have to have some sort of fire in the belly, which you see so many drivers have that in this series now. You see it in Formula One and in every series. Just some guys have that whatever-it-is in them and some don’t.

“The people that don’t may be exceptional in another area. Yeah, it’s everything about looking at data and the video and putting all that in your mind. But then when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, you’ve got to put it together and it takes a lot of everything to do that. You’re digging and clawing your whole career trying to stay in the right.

“I’m not really any faster than I was when I was 17 years ago _ honestly, I’m not. I’m the same pace. You have just added so much more to your tool box of putting things together and weekends together and knowledge of the car and setting it up.”

Callum Ilott of Great Britain continued his impressive season with one-car Juncos Hollinger Racing, qualifying seventh in the team’s No. 77 Chevrolet as top rookie in the field.

Meanwhile, the list of high-profile drivers who failed to advance from the first round of qualifying was impressive, primarily due to a puzzling combination of air temperatures in the high 80s and track temps approaching 130 degrees.

Indianapolis 500 winners Takuma Sato (13th), Alexander Rossi (16th), Helio Castroneves (19th), Simon Pagenaud (20th), Scott Dixon (21st) and Juan Pablo Montoya (23rd) all failed to advance into the second round. Castroneves, of Meyer Shank Racing, has returned to IMS as the four-time/reigning Indy 500 champion.

In addition, series race-winners Colton Herta (14th), Rinus VeeKay (15th) and Marcus Ericsson (18th) also did not advance from Round One.

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Former INDYCAR driver/team-owner Sarah Fisher _ still the fastest woman in Indianapolis 500 history _ will drive the 2023 Corvette Z06 70th Anniversary Edition Pace Car that will lead the field to the green flag for the 106th Indy 500 on Sunday, May 29.

A native of Ohio, Fisher started “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” nine times between 2000 and 2010, a record for woman competitors. Her fastest four-lap/10-mile qualifying speed of 229.439 mph in 2002 remains an event record for a female driver.

Fisher also was the first woman to win pole position for a major North American open-wheel event, at the INDYCAR race in 2002 at Kentucky Speedway. She also was the first female driver to record a top-three finish in INDYCAR competition, placing third in 2000 at Kentucky Speedway and second in 2001 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After her driving career, Fisher turned to team ownership, providing two-time series champion to-be Josef Newgarden his first INDYCAR ride. Sarah has stayed involved with the sport by serving as Official Pace Car driver at selected NTT IndyCar Series events.

Fisher and husband Andy O’Gara co-own the successful Speedway Indoor Karting facilities in Speedway, Ind., and Daytona Beach, Fla. Sarah also is the mother of two children.

“Every time I’ve had the opportunity to drive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s been special _ from INDYCAR to two-seaters to vintage cars,” Fisher said. “Driving the Pace Car is just as special of an honor. And to have served in that role for the NTT IndyCar Series since Johnny Rutherford retired, I’ve had many great memories to add to my career.”

The 2023 Corvette Z06 is powered by an all-new 5.5L LT6 engine creating 670 horsepower _ making it the highest-horsepower, naturally aspirated V-8 to hit the market in any production car. The Indianapolis 500 Corvette Z06 Pace Car features a wide stance and exotic mid-engine proportions. This year’s Pace Car is equipped with the available Z07 Performance Package, which includes a carbon fiber rear wing, aerodynamic ground effects, carbon ceramic brakes and more for maximum track capability.

The Pace Car is a model year 2023 70th Anniversary Edition Z06, finished in special White Pearl Tri-Coat Metallic paint. Unique to this package on the production car and the Pace Car are 70th Anniversary Edition exterior badging, including special Corvette crossflags emblems, Edge Red brake calipers and the 70th Anniversary Edition logo on seats, steering wheel and sill plates.

Chevrolet’s Performance Design Studio created an asymmetric stripe package specifically for the Pace Car that draws inspiration from the 70th Anniversary Edition badging on the door of the Z06.

Chevrolet and Corvette have led the Indy 500 starting field more than any other manufacturer and nameplate, respectively. The 2022 race marks the 33rd time for Chevrolet to pace the event dating to 1948, and the 19th time since 1978 for “America’s favorite sports car.”

Information on all “Month of May” events and activities at IMS is available at IMS.com.

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Danial Frost’s perseverance finally paid off Friday evening at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After finishing second three times in 2021, the Singapore native claimed his first career Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires victory on the IMS Road-Course in Race One of the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

“I can’t even speak at the moment for the result I just got,” Frost said in Victory Circle after leading 27 of 35 laps in the No. 68 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car. “I’ve been working so hard to get to it. Finally getting that No. 1 victory, it means a lot to me. I thank my team, I thank my sponsors, I thank everyone for this amazing result today.”

Hunter McElrea finished second, 1.5449-seconds behind Frost, in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport entry. His teammate, Sting Ray Robb, placed third in the No. 2 Andretti Autosport car.

Frost will start sixth in Race 2 of the doubleheader Saturday afternoon. Until then, Frost will be soaking-in his first Indy Lights victory.

“It’s Indy; it’s the home of racing,” Frost said. “It’s very special to get this win here. I always dreamed of winning here. I’ve been close before but never P1. It’s always a great feeling.”

(Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).

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Qualifying results for Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile/14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

  1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:09.7664 (125.854 mph)
    2. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:09.8090 (125.777)
    3. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:09.8343 (125.732)
    4. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:09.9063 (125.602)
    5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:10.0546 (125.337)
    6. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:10.0605 (125.326)
    7. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:09.6530 (126.059)
    8. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:09.6594 (126.048)
    9. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:09.6899 (125.992)
    10. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:09.7100 (125.956)
    11. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:09.7847 (125.821)
    12. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:10.2950 (124.908)
    13. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:09.8239 (125.751)
    14. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:09.8527 (125.699)
    15. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:09.9550 (125.515)
    16. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:09.9178 (125.582)
    17. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:10.1306 (125.201)
    18. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:09.9294 (125.561)
    19. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:10.1417 (125.181)
    20. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:09.9717 (125.485)
    21. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:10.1694 (125.131)
    22. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 01:10.1954 (125.085)
    23. (6) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:10.7610 (124.085)
    24. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:10.4755 (124.588)
    25. (11) Tatiana Calderon, Chevrolet, 01:11.0020 (123.664)
    26. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:10.7187 (124.160)
    27. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:11.4599 (122.872)

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 14 2022
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