Power secures front row start for Indy 500
WILL Power will start on the front row of the grid in next week's Indianapolis 500 after qualifying third fastest on Pole Day.
The Australian was one of three Team Penske drivers in the top four, but it was Indianapolis local Ed Carpenter who earned his third career pole position at The Brickyard for his self-owned and run team.
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will line up between Carpenter and Power for next Monday's (AEST) race.
Power lamented running too much downforce for his four-lap qualifying run, but felt he still wouldn't have been able to match the speed laid down by Carpenter for the pole.
"We went out and practised after making a big change overnight, and it was completely wrong," Power said.
"I lost all my confidence because I was having so many moments, and so we had to go back on that and return the car to the way it was.
"The car was pretty stuck, could have trimmed out more. There was no way I was ever going to do the speed that Ed does. I don't know what else I could take off the car that would make a mile-an-hour."
Power will also be joined in the race by fellow Australian James Davison, who will start from row seven after he improved from 33rd to 19th in Sunday qualifying.
It caps a rollercoaster 48 hours for the cousin of Supercars racers Will and Alex, who crashed heavily in practice on Friday - one Davison called the biggest crash of his career.
Carpenter, the 2013 and 2014 pole sitter, has finished no better than fifth in 14 Indy 500 starts, that top effort coming in 2008.
The most recent of his three career IndyCar series wins came in 2014 at Texas. But Carpenter had the fastest single lap of the day at 230.088 mph to start his run and never dropped below 229 mph on any lap.
"It means everything to me to put us in a position like this," Carpenter said.
"That first lap blew my mind. I knew we had more left but I wasn't expecting a 230. Of all the pole runs I've had here, this one came the easiest."
Carpenter is the car owner for fellow Americans Patrick and Spencer Pigot, who were also among Saturday's nine fastest qualifiers and thus earned a chance to run for the pole on Sunday.
Patrick finished seventh, one spot behind Pigot, and booked an inside third row start for the final race of her trailblazing 20-year career.
"I had one little slip on the exit of (Turn) 1 that was the only non-boring part, but otherwise it was straightforward," Patrick said of her qualifying run.
She had watched as another US racer who nearly bumped her from the fast nine pole hunters, Alexander Rossi, faded in Sunday's runs and settled for a last-row starting spot.
"The fear of having a bad day is there. That's possible here. Indy just changes," Patrick said. "I'm thankful for all the good days I've had here. Now it's time for 500 fun miles."
Patrick, back at Indy after running stock cars since 2011, began the pole fight with a run of 228.090 but was overtaken by US racer Josef Newgarden, who then lost the top spot to Power.
Pagenaud followed to grab a front-row spot only to see Carpenter's run deny him the pole.
"It's four laps when you are completely on the edge of everything. It's like holding your breath," Pagenaud said.
"It's a front row. It's a great job."
Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the last man on the track after topping Saturday's speed chart but only went 227.859 and will start in the middle of row three between Patrick and New Zealand's Scott Dixon.
"It was a tough one," Castroneves said. "Hopefully we can get the big win number four from there. I'd prefer the win to the pole position."
France's Sebastien Bourdais, who crashed last year in qualifying and sustained injuries that kept him out of the race, will start in the middle of row two between Newgarden and Pigot after a run at 228.142.
"It was really hard. The car was sliding a lot," Bourdais said. "Pretty happy with the run the way things went."
The slowest 24 qualifiers from Saturday took one run each Sunday and filled out the grid's last eight rows, with Brazil's Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, the fastest at 227.664 mph to claim the inside fourth row spot.
"We worked so hard and that's all we had," Kanaan said.
"We missed the fast nine. I couldn't make it for thousandths of a second. Today felt like a win for us. We're working really hard."
Another Brazilian, Matheus Leist, will start in the middle of row four as the fastest rookie qualifier in 227.571 mph, two spots better than Canadian newcomer Zachary Claman de Melo.
Defending Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato of Japan will start from the inside of the sixth row.