Power ties Mario Andretti for most career poles at 67 with top starting spot for Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 (6 p.m. ET, USA, INDYCAR Radio Network)

MADISON, Ill — Will Power called his shot on Friday afternoon when he sped to the top of the speed chart in the initial NTT INDYCAR Series practice of the weekend at the World Wide Technology Raceway. He said his car felt great and knew that it was in the window to score his record tying pole later on in the day.

Well boy did he ever.

Power turned the quickest opening lap of the qualifying round at 182.366 mph. Could he sustain that pace on Lap 2 and net his 4th pole of the season?

He went quicker.

Power eclipsed the 183 mph barrier on his checkered flag lap in going 183.089 mph in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet. That set him a 182.727 mph 2-lap average netting him his 67th career NTT P1 Pole Award which ties him with Mario Andretti for most all-time as he’ll start first in Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 (6 p.m. ET, USA, INDYCAR Radio Network).

It’s an award he doesn’t take lightly. At one point of his career it looked like he’d easily reach Andretti with scoring 42 poles in his 1st 153 starts. However, he only had 20 over his next 96 tries. Now, 15 races into 2022, he has 4 more to get him to record breaking territory.

“Yeah, something I’ve had my eye on for a while,” Power said. “I think when I got to 60, I was like, This could be possible. Yep, it’s definitely a big box to tick.

“When I got the double pole at Iowa, that’s when it became really realistic. The year before I had one pole. I think the year before that I had three. It was getting increasingly harder to get pole position. I was kind of thinking, This is going to be pretty hard to beat.

“But the double pole at Iowa was real key. Yep, great team, great engine, great crew. That’s what I’ve had. I’ve been lucky.

“But, yeah, now focusing forward on the race. That’s really the big thing on my mind, is having a good day. Yeah, everyone’s at the front, so it’s just going to be…

“It’s pretty typical of INDYCAR, right? It’s just going to go down to the last race. The way I see it, even on points right now, it’s that close, it can just flip. It’s going to be about who can finish ahead of who. Simple as that.”

Marcus Ericsson will start alongside in his No. 8 Dallara-Honda. The Indianapolis 500 champion went 181.901 mph on Lap 1 and 182.239 mph on Lap 2 to at the time propel him to P1 with a qualifying average of 180.070 mph.

It was Power who went 1 qualifying spot later and had enough to top Ericsson. 2 of the top 3 in points will now share the front row as this is Power’s 4th pole in 7 WWTR tries as well.

“I thought my run was really good, so I thought I had a shot,” said Ericsson. “If there’s one guy you don’t want to go after you when you’re standing on provisional pole, it’s definitely Will Power.

“Either way, I’m really happy we’re on the front row, the car felt so good. The team did a really good effort today to give me such a qualifying car.”

For Ericsson, he’s a quietly good qualifier around the 1.25-mile track. This was his 4th straight top 7 qualifying effort here including being 6th last year.

“Now going down to the last three, I think I’ll do everything I possibly can to try and win this championship,” he says as he enters 12 points behind Power for the lead.

“I knew today in qualifying it was really important because of the way this track races. It’s not always easy to overtake. I was very focused going in.

“Yeah, I try and do like I’ve done all year and not change things up. But it is, like you say, in oval qualifying, it’s something special. You have those two laps, high speeds, no margin for error. It is quite special to do it. It’s a lot of adrenaline that runs through your body.

“It’s pretty unique, but I really enjoy it. I think it’s really fun.”

Now, can he top Power and regain the points lead. He trails him by 6 entering Saturday’s race.

Josef Newgarden (181.629 mph) will start third in his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet. That’s the exact spot he started from last year in his win. He started 2nd in his other 2 victories here.

Scott McLaughlin (181.406 mph) rolls off fourth in his No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet giving Team Penske 3 of the top 4 starting positions. Alex Palou (181.289 mph) rounded out the top 5 in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda.

Josef Newgarden on Friday at the World Wide Technology Raceway. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Chevy’s Look Tough To Stop Again

Chevrolet has won 10 of the last 12 short oval races in the series including not only 2 straight here but also swept both Iowa races last month. So far, they look like the manufacturer to beat again this weekend with taking 4 of the top 7 starting spots including 3 of the top 4 at that.

Penske vs. Ganassi Fight For The Win Tomorrow?

Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing have combined to have won 13 of the last 14 series championships including every one since 2013. They also have the entire top 6 in points entering the 15th of 17 rounds of the 2022 season. On Friday, they qualified in each of the top 6 starting spots setting up at Penske vs. Ganassi fight for the win.

They’ve also combined to have won 4 of the 5 races since the return to WWTR in 2017 as well.

What Happened To ECR?

This was supposed to be a strong weekend for Ed Carpenter Racing. Ed Carpenter was runner-up here in 2019. Rinus VeeKay finished 6th and 4th respectively here as a rookie in 2020. Conor Daly had 4 top 10 finishes in his first 5 Gateway starts. Collectively, big things were expected from this trio. Instead, it’s been a bad start to the weekend.

They went P17-P23-P24 in practice and backed that up with qualifying just P16-P23-P25.

They’ll have their work cut out for them on Saturday.

Colton Herta and Takuma Sato on Friday at the World Wide Technology Raceway. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Ganassi/Andretti Could Lead Honda Charge

While Chevrolet has dominated short ovals, I wouldn’t put it past a Chip Ganassi Racing or Andretti Autosport car stealing a win on Saturday. 7 of the top 12 in the starting lineup belong to these camps with Ganassi going 2-5-6-21 and Andretti 9-10-11-12.

Now, can they get passed the Penske trio…

Points Race

The entire top 7 in points will all start in the top 4 rows as they all qualified 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. That sets up an interesting start to Saturday’s race in the event you have weather that could threaten how the 260 lap event runs and all the top drivers in points all starting with one another too.

“Yeah, I think it shows how competitive this series is,” Ericsson said. “Like you said, all the top guys are up there tomorrow. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough to battle it out, try and beat the guy next to me here. It’s going to be very tough.

“But we’re going to give it our best shot. I think we have three cars up there so we know we have a good package as well. Just try to do our best, race our race, see what we got.”

Power agreed.

“Yeah, it just shows no one’s letting up, no one will until the end.

“Yep, pretty tight battle to the end. It will be very interesting to see how it unfolds. All you can do is just do your best. Do your best. Can’t control some things, so see what happens.”

Ericsson said that with all of them starting up front, there’s no way to try and pit to cover someone to keep them behind.

“I think if it was one or two cars fighting for it with three to go, you could start racing that guy,” he says. “But now we are five or even seven cars fighting for the championship. It’s not really possible to cover six other cars.

“We need to focus on ourselves tomorrow. We need to try and win the race because we’re going to be in a position to fight for that, so that’s going to be the goal.

“But we know it’s tough competition out there. We need to race our race. I think that’s important.”

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