LEXINGTON, Ohio—Teams put a premium on qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course because the tight, twisty road course doesn’t allow for much passing. That was good news for Will Power who won from the pole (his 60th) to score his first victory at the 2.258-mile circuit.
For AJ Foyt Racing drivers Charlie Kimball and Dalton Kellett, qualifying did not go well as they started 22nd and 23rd respectively.
Kimball was not happy with his car after this morning’s 75-minute practice which was shortened by 10-15 minutes due to Pato O’Ward’s off track excursion into a tire barrier (he wasn’t injured). The shortened practice didn’t make it any easier for Kellett, a rookie in the NTT INDYCAR Series. The team made further changes to both cars after this afternoon’s qualifying session.
In the race, Kellett found the changes to his car worked but Kimball was still unhappy with his car.
“It was a really tough day honestly,” Kimball said after finishing 21st in the 75-lap race. “We missed it a little bit in qualifying and I feel like we missed it a lot in the race. The 14 car looked a little more competitive in the race so we’ll look at what they did and come up with some ideas. The nice thing is that we get to do it all again tomorrow, so I have a lot of faith in the No. 4 AJ Foyt Racing crew. We just have to sit down, put all our heads together and come up with something to start tomorrow.”
Running his fifth race of a partial season in the K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, Kellett, who finished 22nd, said, “Not the overall finishing position we’d like, but I think we found some easy time to gain in qualifying for tomorrow, so hopefully we should be able to qualify a little further up the grid.”
Always analytical, the Queens University engineering graduate explained the challenge of starting in the rear of the field, saying, “That will definitely make it a little easier because when you’re starting at the back there, by the end of the first lap you’re already a significant chunk behind the leaders and it’s a short lap, so then with the pit cycles you end up kind of risking going a lap down and getting caught in a pack that’s at a different speed than you so that can be a bit difficult. So really the goal for tomorrow is qualifying further up, that will make our lives easier and keep working on the car.
Although he was lapped, he was able to run wheel to wheel with cars which resulted in some valuable experience in an unusual season that is short on track time. “I think we’ve made the car better from practice to qualifying to the race and definitely learned some good lessons today that we can take into tomorrow.”
One bright note from today’s action were the flawless pit stops by both the Tresiba crew on the No. 4 Chevy and the K-Line Insulators USA crew on the No. 14 Chevy.
Today’s race went caution free which didn’t allow for any respite for the drivers over the 90-minute race. It was the third race in a row to run caution-free at this track, the most physical on the INDYCAR circuit. One of the challenges all of the drivers will face is running another very physical 75-lap race around the 13-turn circuit within 19 hours of the finish of today’s race.
Following Power across the line were Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Tomorrow’s qualifying session for race 2 starts at 10:15 a.m. ET and will be available on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. The race will be broadcast on NBC starting at 1 p.m.