LEXINGTON, Ohio — Will Power was in a good place in his head and inside the Team Penske Chevrolet as he made the 13 turns around the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday.
Power edged defending race champion Alexander Rossi for his record fourth pole in the event.
Power had a fast lap of 124.757 mph. Rossi, who signed a multiyear contract Saturday to remain with Andretti Autosport and avoid free agency, had a lap at 124.044 in a Honda.
"When I get in that zone, I usually nail everything," Power said.
Power broke a tie with Michael Andretti for the most poles at Mid-Ohio. He also earned the P1 position in 2010, 2012 and 2017. Power leads the series this year with three poles (St. Petersburg and Circuits of America).
Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe came in 11th in today’s race, rounding up the lap in one minute and 5.756 seconds.
Power has 57 career poles, second overall to Mario Andretti’s 67.
"I am aware of it," Power said. "I need to average about four a year to get it and I am at three this year with a few races to go. It is very cool to be out there with such a legend and to pass him would be amazing. It is absolutely a goal because it is close enough to be one now."
Power felt like another pole was coming Saturday.
"It’s a mental state I get into," he said. "I just get it all right. When I get to that area, it’s usually perfect."
He had to be to hold off Rossi, who slipped by Power for the pole last year.
"You’re always disappointed if you miss it by one- or two-hundredths because there’s a lot of things you can look back on over the lap," Rossi said.
IndyCar series leader Josef Newgarden (Team Penske Chevy) was third in 123.560; Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud in a Chevy was fourth (123.358) and Sebastian Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing in a Honda was fifth (122.784).
Despite his success in qualifying at Mid-Ohio, Power has not won the race in 10 starts. He has a second place (2016) among seven top-five finishes.
He is still looking for his victory this year to extend his streak of 13 seasons with a victory. Scott Dixon holds the record at 15, including the second race at Belle Island this year. Dixon will start eighth in the Chip Ganassi Honda.
Rookie Colton Herta, who had the fastest lap of the practice sessions Friday, will start eighth. He has a win this year at Circuit of The Americas.
Local favourite Graham Rahal, from about 60 miles south in New Albany, hoped to rebound from having the slowest time in the second practice on Friday but did not advance to the Fast 12 and will start 15th in the Rahal Lettermen Lanigan Racing Honda. He is looking to add to his 2016 Mid-Ohio win.
Jack Harvey qualified the Meyer Shank Racing Honda ninth. The team is based in the Columbus suburb of Pataskala. Zach Veach from the southern Ohio town of Stockdale will start 20th in the Andretti Autosport Honda.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Pagenaud believes the race will be competitive with passing favourable despite the numerous turns. "I think the package we have these days on the Indy car is great for racing, really good for racing. We have ‘push to pass’, which is a tremendous tool for passing. The cars are so close. The racing is just phenomenal. I think the level of driving is just amazing."