INDIANAPOLIS – Amid his joy at pulling off a qualifying effort that helped soothe a difficult early season, Conor Daly looked at the results Friday and marveled at what he saw at the top of the chart.
Will Power, again, won his mastery of the flying lap to win the pole position on Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the 64th Power’s career in pole, pulling him into three of Mario Andretti’s IndyCar records.
Power’s lap of 1: 09.7664 in his Team Penske Chevrolet was literally a blink better than Alex Palou’s in 1: 09.8090 in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Penske driver Josef Newgarden was third in 1: 09.8343, followed by Daly’s surprising and inspiring effort in 1: 09.9063 in his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
“Being a pole position for two-tenths of power is the best thing to do,” Daly said. “This is where we want to be moving forward.”
It’s a huge step forward for Daly after the first four races this season, when he qualified 20thth at St. Petersburg, 16th on oval at Texas, 17th at Long Beach and 22nd at Barber Motorsports Park. Daly has been on the IMS road course for the past two years in qualifying sixth and eighth.
“There’s no question I’ve struggled with this generation of car,” he said. “But there are certain places where every driver has their best tracks and their worst tracks. Apparently here, I remember how to drive. The car feels fast and it does what I want. It’s been a difficult window to find other circuits, but for whatever reason, here it suits my style more than elsewhere. ”
He’ll start on the second row, outside the Palou.
“I’m going to hope (Palou) gets a nice jump and we can follow each other turn 1 nicely,” Daly said.
It might take a double-team like that to get past Power, who won the pole during his final lap in the Fast Six qualifying session. It continues to be his status as one of IndyCar’s all-time great qualifiers, with his first pole since the GMR Grand Prix at IMS in 2020.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been on a road course,” Power said. “As usual, it was crazy close everyone. I couldn’t leave anything on the table. It is incredibly hard to get to. It’s a different guy every week that gets it all together. ”
It was no surprise to Palou, the defending IndyCar season champion and current points leader.
“I mean, it’s Will Power,” the 25-year-old said of the 41-year-old. “He probably has more poles than I do single-seaters in races.”
Power’s secret? He credits the preparation of Team Penske, and also the ability to find another level of desire when it’s time to post a pole-winning lap.
“There is just so much that goes on and you get into the car,” he said. “Then it’s up to you to dig deep and put it together. In my early days, I used to say that anyone can learn to do this. But after 20 years of high-level driving, I don’t believe that much. You have to have fire in the belly. ”
Follow Kirby Arnold on Twitter @KirbyArnold.