ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Will Power had a bad day at work Saturday (June 17).
The Aussie’s defense of his 2022 NTT IndyCar Series title has been an up-and-down affair heading into the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America, and so far, this weekend has been a downer.
After managing just the 17th-quickest time in practice Friday, Power’s practice session Saturday morning was cut short after an incident with Scott Dixon, which left his Team Penske crew to repair his damaged car in time for qualifying.
Things went from bad to worse in qualifying, as Power went off track and failed to advance out of the first round. The result means he will start Sunday’s race in the 22nd position.
Dixon, who was apologetic and took full responsibility for the practice crash, spun out in front of Power in turn 12 during the session, collecting both cars. An angry Power cursed over the radio, then gave the Kiwi two middle fingers as he got out of the car. He walked over to Dixon, grabbed him by the firesuit, and gave him a shove before cooler heads from the AMR Safety Team got the two separated.
Dixon said that by the time the two made it into the safety vehicle for the ride to the care center, Power seemed to be calmed down, but his poor qualifying session set him off again.
“I’m just pissed; what Dixon did this morning ruined our weekend,” Power told NBC Sports. “The guys did a great job, and I did everything I could. It’s so hard in this field when you are behind the eight ball. It’s frustrating because I thought we were really quick this morning, and am really disappointed with what happened.”
Post-qualifying, Dixon wasn’t the only one to feel Power’s wrath. After a couple of off-track excursions, Power didn’t mince any word about Road America.
“This track is terrible when you go off; they do a terrible job,” Power said. “They need to pick up their game. Anywhere you go off, you almost break your back. They need a kick in the butt.”
And he wasn’t finished, later remarking that Andretti Autosport driver Romain Grosjean “needs a punch in the face” after clashing in practice as well.
While he stands eighth in the points heading into the weekend, Power, the greatest qualifier in IndyCar history with 68 poles, has yet to put it together in qualifying this year. So far, he has yet to make the Firestone Fast 6 and has started outside of 10th five times in seven races.
As fate would have it, Dixon will start next to Power on the outside of the 11th row after failing to make it out of his qualifying group as well. While Dixon is fourth in points, he trails teammate Alex Palou by 79 points as the season is approaching its halfway point.
Both drivers will need to move forward in Sunday’s 55-lap, 220-mile race or risk seeing their championship hopes start slipping away. With Palou, Pato O’Ward, Josef Newgarden, and Alexander Rossi – drivers Power and Dixon are battling in the points standings – starting in the first three rows, they have an uphill climb on their hands.
Sunday’s green flag will wave at 1:30 p.m. ET.
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