MADISON, Ill. (AP) — IndyCar points leader Will Power won pole for Saturday night’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway, tying Mario Andretti for the series pole record.
The 67th pole of Power’s career was won on Friday at the short oval outside of St. Louis. The Australian clocked a lap of 183.089 mph to easily secure first place on the grid for the deciding race in the IndyCar Championship fight.
The Force heads into Saturday night and is clinging to a six-point lead over Scott Dixon in the standings and seven drivers are separated by just 59 points. A total of 11 drivers remain mathematically eligible to win the championship with three races remaining.
Power’s fourth pole of the season was the one he has been chasing since 2020 when he finally realized Andretti’s mark was within reach.
“It’s something I’ve had my eye on for a while. I think by the time I turned 60, I was like, ‘This might be possible,'” Power said. “It’s definitely a big box to tick.”
Andretti expects the record to fall soon. Two weeks ago, Dixon won for the 63rd time in Nashville, overtaking Andretti for second on the all-time list.
“He’s tied now but he’s going to break the record because he really wants it and he knows how to do it.” Andretti wrote on Twitter.
But now that Power has set the record, his attention is focused solely on the championship fight.
“I don’t feel any relief because I’m so focused on the race and the championship. I can think about it later and feel good about it,” Power said. “Right now it’s just so important to have a good car in the race and have a solid day.”
Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who held the points lead for six races this season, qualified second for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“I think I’ll do whatever I can to try and win this championship,” said Ericsson, who is third on points and 12 points behind Power.
Ericsson was followed by Power’s teammates on Team Penske, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin. Newgarden is the defending race winner and 22 points behind Power in fourth place overall.
IndyCar Champion Alex Palou qualified for Ganassi in fifth, followed by teammate Dixon in sixth. Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward was seventh as the top seven drivers in the standings claimed the top seven places – four Chevrolets to Ganassi’s three Hondas.
“I think most of the time you’re going to be up against guys you’re actually fighting for the championship,” O’Ward said before qualifying. With 59 points, he said his goal was clear: “I have to win. I have to win races to have a chance.”
Dale Coyne Racing’s Takuma Sato qualified eighth and after his run said he was working on a deal to return to the team next season.
“I think everyone is happy with where we are, but there are still many things that need to be done before we tick the box,” Sato said. “It would be a shame if we stopped. We want to build with this team, it’s small but it’s a great competitive team and I’d like to keep it together.”
The four-car Andretti Autosport line-up qualified ninth through 12th and was led by Romain Grosjean, who made his Oval debut at Gateway a year ago. Devlin DeFrancesco was tenth, followed by Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta.
DeFrancesco, a rookie, tested at Gateway last week in preparation for the race and said his comfort on ovals has improved dramatically since the start of the season. He also said he doesn’t know why he’s in the rumor mill as a driver who is about to lose his job.
“I have a multi-year contract with Andretti Steinbrenner Racing. I have no idea where the rumors are coming from,” DeFrancesco said. “What I know when I have a multi-year contract.”
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