For the second straight year, Will Power will lead the Verizon IndyCar Series field to the green flag at Texas Motor Speedway.
Power, who holds a 19-point lead in the championship over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, cranked out a two-lap average of 218.896 miles per hour in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet to take the pole for tomorrow’s Firestone 600 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).
As a result, the Australian isn’t putting too much stock in his qualifying run today and is focused on having a good race set-up.
“I remember last year starting on the pole, and it’s good for the [championship] point and that’s about it,” he told IndyCar Radio.
“You must have a good race car and a good race car in traffic as well…The tires grain a lot, so at the end of the stint, it’s pretty hard to hold on and maintain a good pace.”
Starting alongside Will Power on the front row will be Josef Newgarden of the single-car Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team.
With his No. 67 Honda bearing the metallic Strike livery, the American turned in a two-lap average of 217.835 mph that stood atop the pylon until Power came along.
Practice 1 leader and Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan will roll off from the inside of Row 2 after his two-lap average of 217.826.
Joining him will be another Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, whose average of 217.724 mph was good enough for fourth.
Ed Carpenter, always a threat on the ovals, will line up fifth in Row 3 alongside Simon Pagenaud in sixth.
As for defending race champion Castroneves, he’ll have some climbing to do. His first lap of 217.622 mph had him toward the front of the field, but his second lap was markedly slower at 215.571 mph.
That left his average at 216.591 mph, good for just 14th on the 22-car grid.
A final, 30-minute practice session is currently ongoing and is expected to run until 8:15 p.m. ET.