ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2020) – Will Power, the qualifying master of both the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and on the streets of St. Petersburg, reigned again Saturday, winning the NTT P1 Award for pole position in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Power posted a top lap of 1 minute, 1.0369 seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in the Firestone Fast Six of qualifying for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Live coverage of the season finale on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course begins at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC and the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network.
“I thought we had worse tires than the other guys, but I just absolutely nailed it, man,” Power said. “Really, really good lap. I had to work the wheel hard for that one. I’m so stoked to get the Verizon car on pole again. Hopefully we can get Chevy in Victory Lane tomorrow. That would be fantastic.”
Power’s pole run extended a long list of accolades. It was his ninth career pole at St. Petersburg in 12 qualifying attempts, and it was Team Penske’s 10th pole position at St. Pete, with all but one coming from Power.
2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power scored his fifth pole of the season and his second consecutive after starting first in the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Oct. 3. Power also made one step closer to history by scoring his 62nd career pole. He now sits just five behind the all-time INDYCAR record of 67, set by the legendary Mario Andretti.
“I’m able always to take it to another level, and I can only do it once a weekend, I reckon,” Power said. “It’s something I love. I just absolutely love getting the most out of something and perfecting a craft I’ve been working at for 25 years.”
Joining Power on the front row will be Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, who continued Andretti Autosport’s strong day and posted a best lap of 1:01.1730. Rossi has four consecutive top-10 starts to close the season as he also looks to end the year with four consecutive podium finishes.
Colton Herta, who was fastest in practice, qualified third in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda at 1:01.1815. Fellow Andretti driver James Hinchcliffe qualified fourth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda at 1:01.3626, and Jack Harvey, who drives for Meyer Shank Racing with an Andretti technical alliance, qualified fifth in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda at 1:01.3675.
The two athletes competing for the Astor Challenge Cup were noticeably missing from the Firestone Fast Six.
Defending series champion Josef Newgarden failed to make it out of Round 2 and qualified eighth in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet with a time of 1:00.8676.
“We took a swing at it for Q2, and it wasn’t the right direction,” Newgarden said. “I didn’t get the most out of it. I definitely had a lot of slides and wasn’t clean. I think just putting a clean lap together would have been good to transfer, and we just didn’t do the job. It makes our program a little harder for tomorrow, but we’ve still got to go for the win with the Hitachi Chevy boys. Yeah, we can we from there. We just made it a little harder.”
Meanwhile, points leader Scott Dixon will be forced to play defense in tomorrow’s 100-lap race after posting the second-to-last time in Round 2 of qualifying. Dixon will start 11th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda after posting a time of 1:01.0283. He must finish ninth or better to clinch his sixth series title.
Dixon continued a trend of tough qualifying results as of late. Five-time series champion Dixon qualified 12th and 15th, respectively, in the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR doubleheader earlier this month on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“It was a little bit strange,” Dixon said. “Our first qualifying session, the car felt really good. Just didn’t really piece it together very well. Then we kind of flip-flopped on how we did it. The first run we did three (laps) on black and then four (laps) on red. And we thought the reds came in quick enough. But right then, with how the traffic was and having to slow down, it was really only two laps. Each corner I was making, the car was getting more grip. But I just needed another lap. It is what it is. Our mistake.”
‘What They’re Saying’ from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Qualifying
1st – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I thought we had worse tires than the other guys, but I just absolutely nailed it, man. Really, really good lap. I had to work the wheel hard for that one. I’m so stoked to get the Verizon car on pole again. Hopefully we can get Chevy in Victory Lane tomorrow. That would be fantastic.” (About your mastery of qualifying): “I’m able always to take it to another level, and I can only do it once a weekend, I reckon. It’s something I love. I just absolutely love getting the most out of something and perfecting a craft I’ve been working at for 25 years.” (About race strategy): “Unfortunately, it’s looking a bit like a fuel race, but we’ll be going hard, man. Doing the normal thing, trying to win the race and finish the season on a high.”
2nd – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I think every round of qualifying we got better. We started the weekend strong in practice, so I think that’s a huge difference- maker on these weekends when you only have the one practice session. It’s a really good effort for the team to do the offline development. We haven’t been to a street course yet this year, so to have three cars in the top six is a testament to that. I think we just have to keep chipping away at it, and we’re in a good position to go and get that first win tomorrow.”
3rd – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “Pretty frustrated to lose it by that much. The Capstone #ShiftToGreen Honda definitely was the car to do it. We’ll look forward to tomorrow. We’re going to try some stuff in warm-up and go from there.”
4th – JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “Obviously, very happy to make it into the Fast Six. It’s only the second time we’ve had the chance to do that this year, and it was nice to have pace in practice and carry it over into qualifying – all three runs. In the final session, we thought we were stronger on blacks in Q1 and Q2, so we rolled the dice a bit. I think with the massive delay we had, it cooled off a lot, track temps went down. I think r eds would have been the right choice, but I stand by the decision we made. It was a strategic call to try and pull something out. But happy to be on the second row and happy that a bunch of my teammates are up there with us. Now we just have to put our heads down and have a good one tomorrow.”
5th – JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “We had a pretty good qualifying car, and our pace at the end there was still pretty decent. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a great race. We’ve been in the top five now in every discipline of track – road courses, ovals, street circuit. Now, it’s just a nice day to show myself, the team and the rest of the paddock that we can do it on all types of tracks. It was a good day. I think the relief of coming back to St. Pete is the biggest thing this weekend. I know that COVID hasn’t gone away , but it kind of feels like it’s come full circle in some ways because we left St. Pete in March having no idea what the future looked like, and we still don’t know exactly what it will look like apart from that we can tackle it.”
6th – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The practice wasn’t great for us, but we made our way back to the front part of the field during qualifying. The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet is starting on the third row, so we can try and win the race from there. It’s going to be tough to pass, and pit stop windows aren’t going to be as big as they used to be because the race is 10laps shorter. I think if we have a good, consistent race and good pit stops, we should be in contention in the end.”
7th – SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “A much better start to the weekend here in St. Petersburg compared to our starting positions in Indy, so really proud of the group on the 14 car. It’s still touch and go; you never know what you’re going to get.But it all worked out today. We’ll get P7 out of qualifying and start there tomorrow, so looking forward to it, and thanks for everybody’s support.”
8th – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “We took a swing at it for Q2, and it wasn’t the right direction. I didn’t get the most out of it. I definitely had a lot of slides and wasn’t clean. I think just putting a clean lap together would have been good to transfer, and we just didn’t do the job. It makes our program a little harder for tomorrow, but we’ve still got to go for the win with the Hitachi Chevy boys. Yeah, we can we from there. We just made it a little harder.”
9th – RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “That was a little stressful between sessions. I had a really good lap to advance. In Round 2, I made a little correction in the las t corner, which cost me about a tenth of a second. I think I could have made it if that didn’t happen, but that’s racing. Starting ninthis still pretty good . I’m happy with the SONAX Chevy, and I cannot wait to send it tomorrow.”
10th – OLIVER ASKEW (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I haven’t been in an Indy car in a bit over a month, so I was a bit rusty. But it was great to be back here at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Big shoutout to everyone at INDYCAR and Green Savoree for making this event happen. To have it as a season finale is pretty incredible. It’s a home race for me, and I’ll have some family out here tomorrow that I hope to put on a good show for them and Arrow McLaren SP in my final race.”
Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with qualifying position):
CONOR DALY (14th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “An interesting qualifying session for us. We thought we were in, we didn’t know we were in, we didn’t know we were out, and then we were out. We’re starting 14th, which is OK. We need a little but more out of the car, and I need to deliver the right information to help us get there. We can have a good day tomorrow, for sure. We just have to stay in the fight, move forward and use some good strategy. We have definitely made progress with the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, and I am looking forward to tomorrow!”
SCOTT DIXON (11th – No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “The first qualifying session the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda felt pretty good. We just didn’t piece it together that well. We flip flopped how we did it in the first run. In the first run we did three laps on blacks and four on reds. We thought the reds came in quick enough, but then with how the traffic was and having to slow down, there were really only two laps. The car was getting more grip in each corner, but we needed another lap. It is what it is. I think we’re starting P11 now and Newgarden is in P8. That definitely helps us a lot with him not qualifying on pole and getting extra points. We will keep working hard. We’ve got a warmup session in the morning and we’re going to see what we can make of it.”
MARCUS ERICSSON (15th – No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think practice was pretty good. We got a lot of laps in and a good read on the car. I was pretty happy going into qualifying. Then I think we had a good qualifying session , and everything went according to plan. However, it’s super disappointing to miss out on advancing by less than a tenth of a second. This is disappointing because I felt like we had a good car and drove well. We have a bit of work to do tomorrow.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI (18th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It was a very interesting first day for the SealMaster Honda team. We have a better race car than a qualifying car. We’re struggling to break into the top 10. I’m struggling. I’ve been bouncing the car off the wall multiple times in both practice and qualifying. We’re not extracting the best out of the lap time. We’ve just got to tidy it up for tomorrow, and we’ll be fine.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (19th – No. 28 DHL Honda): “An unfortunate result. Coming out of practice we went and completely switched the setup over to some of our teammates’ (setups). We had a pretty good running going to advance, and the rear of the car broke loose in Turn 5. We were only looking for two-tenths of a second, and that was enough to lose that gap. Unfortunately, we are going to start in a spot that is less than ideal, but we will get creative to make it to the front.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (20th – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It’s nice to be back with fans and nice to be back at St. Pete. It feels strange to be ending the season here and running our last qualifying of the year instead of our first qualifying of the year. It is nice to be back at a street circuit because that’s one of the places where INDYCAR really shines. Man, it’s really tight here at St. Pete. We were just within a couple tenths of advancing the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet into the top 12, I think it was something like .3 of a percent we were off – really small – but there is definitely room to improve the car, and we’ll do that overnight and be ready to go racing tomorrow. There’s always a little bit of chaos that seems to happen here at St. Pete, and we’ll just be ready to take advantage of it.”
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN (21st – No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Chevrolet): “We were probably better than where we ended up. But I stuffed up my red tire lap – I just need to get used to the grip. It was nice in practice because I had a lot of black tire runs but only got one on the red, and it was the same in qualifying. I’m not making any excuses. With a little more time, we will be OK . I’m disappointed with myself, but it is what it is. It’s tough to learn on a road course and learning the space around you. I’m used to knocking mirrors off on a wall, not necessarily my tire. We are just pushing trying to find our limits in a fast-forward motion. I just need to thank everyone with Shell V-Power Nitro +, Team Penske and everyone. We will have a go at it tomorrow.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (12th – No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m sure happy. The Menards Chevrolet has been really good all day long. We’ve made some big improvement, which is encouraging for 2021. In that last session, Dixon was in front of me the whole run. So we were stuck behind him, and I had to do my laps. I’ve just not been on the right side of the stick this year in qualifying. We had a car fast enough for the Fast Six, no question, but Dixon was the slowest car on the track.”
ALEX PALOU (16th – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “Practice this morning went really well, but I think our result was maybe a bit better than the actual pace of our Guaranteed Rate Honda. Qualifying was difficult because we didn’t really get the ultimate lap because of traffic and then the red flag at the end. We were missing, I think, a tenth from making it into the next round. I’m a bit upset about that, but we should be fine for the race tomorrow. The car is better than where we are starting , and hopefully we can finish in the top 10 again. I really like the St. Petersburg street course.It’s different from what I’m most used to, and with limited practice time it makes it tough to learn the track and see the limits, but it’s been fun so far.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (17th – No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “We didn’t perform very well today. In the first practice, we didn’t get a run on the reds. It’s my fault. I wanted to complete a run on blacks and should have just come in and given ourselves an opportuni ty, and I didn’t do that. And then the red came out and reduced the session. Then we went into qualifying a little blind. I think we had enough speed. I pushed it really hard into Turn 1 on Lap 2, got four wheels locked up and about went around, and it really hurt us. I’m going to take this one on the chin, and we’re going to move on. Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day from where we start, but I think my second-best finish here of second place, I started second-to-last, so anything can happen.It’s 100 laps, and there is going to be plenty of excitement tomorrow. Let’s try to finish this thing off strong.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST (22nd – No. 10 NTT DATA Honda): “I thought the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda felt good. I had a bit of traffic on my laps, but I put a decent lap together to get us through. Then unfortunately we got penalized because we blocked the No. 55 car, which our software told us that he was on his out lap, but he wasn’t. Obviously, we trust the software that INDYCAR provides us, but it showed us the wrong thing, and we paid the price for it. It’s tough because thesame thing happened to us last year at Laguna. It is what it is.”
TAKUMA SATO (13th – No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Honda): “I brushed the wall. It was my mistake. Since the field was so tight, little things bit us. We made quite a few small changes on the car, which we felt was positive, but then putting everything together (in one lap) is always tough business. A small mistake made us not be able to transfer to the next round, so that was a shame. We are going in a positive direction, though , and have the warm-up session to continue to improve the car. We will look at the data tonight, and I think we can move forward in tomorrow’s warm-up.”