ELKHART LAKE, Wis.— A week after winning the final NTT IndyCar Series race at Belle Isle near Detroit, charging from 16th position on the grid, Will Power qualified one position better in 15th place for Sunday’s (June 12) Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America.
The 2016 Road America winner went around the 14-turn, 4.014-mile road course in 1 minute, 45.4227 seconds to end up eighth in the first group after round one knockout qualifying. By not placing one of the top six fastest times in that qualifying group, Power did not advance to the second round and will line up 15th for the 55-lap race on Sunday.
Callum Ilott was the final driver to advance from the first group and was only .0321 seconds faster than Power. The 2014 champion was set to advance to round two but lost all the time he had gained in the final sector of the track.
“I had a lot of wheelspin out of (turn) 12, but yeah, that was the only corner,” Power said to Kevin Lee on pit road as the second group started qualifying. “Yeah, I don’t know. Should’ve been better than that. Should’ve been better even on blacks, it’s surprising we weren’t faster.”
Power won in 2016 after starting on pole position, something that bodes well for Sunday’s (June 12) pole sitter Alexander Rossi. In every open wheel race at Road America, dating back to CART’s debut in 1982, the farthest back any driver has started and won was 13th place. Alex Tagliani won from that position in 2004, a race that ended up being the Canadian’s only win in top level American open wheel racing.
Power’s worst start at Road America before 2022 was eighth in the second race of the 2020 doubleheader. Once again starting the race stuck in traffic, strategy will have to benefit the 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner to get him through the field.
“We’re going to have to try something. Good news is that when you qualify badly, you have extra reds,” Power said, referring to Firestone’s softer alternate tire compound. “Hopefully, that comes into play. Yeah, not ideal, man. I’ve got to get a hold of this qualifying thing. I’m either too on or too off. I wasn’t on enough then … should’ve been more on top of it like I was in practice.
“But yeah, I’ve had tough groups the last two rounds, and I feel like the next group is quite a bit easier, but that’s no excuse, I mean we should be up there.”
Power’s time from the first group actually would have been sixth fastest in the second qualifying group, bumping out Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin. Power was the only Penske driver to not advance from the first round of qualifying. McLaughlin qualified eighth while Josef Newgarden qualified second fastest, just .0715 seconds slower than Rossi.
As for Power’s comments about being too on or too off in qualifying, the Australian’s qualifying performances have resembled a rollercoaster throughout the first eight race weekends of the 2022 IndyCar season.
From second in St. Petersburg, Power has since started fourth (Texas Motor Speedway), seventh (Long Beach), 19th (Barber), first (Indy GP), 11th (Indianapolis 500) and 16th (Detroit). Power has finished third, fourth, fourth, fourth, third, 15th and first to hold a slim points lead over 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who qualified fourth.
Sunday’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America airs live on NBC starting at 12:30 p.m. with the green flag waving to start the race 25 minutes later.
More Sonsio Grand Prix Coverage
About the author
Christopher DeHarde has covered IndyCar racing and the Road to Indy for various outlets since 2014. In addition to open wheel racing, DeHarde has also covered IMSA and various short track racing events around Indiana. Originally from New Orleans, DeHarde moved to the Indianapolis area in 2017 to further pursue a career as a motorsports writer.
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