Will Power claims second straight IndyCar pole

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Through two rounds of the 2019 season, Will Power is the only pole sitter IndyCar has known. With a lap of 1 minute, 46.018 seconds, he outpaced Alexander Rossi (1:46.176) to win the 56th pole of his career and will lead the field to green at Circuit of the Americas (1 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN).

“That last lap was very neat,” Power said on NBCSN after the session was completed. “I finally breathed by the time I got to the start/finish line.”

Last week, Power set a fast early pace, but finished third on the Streets of St. Petersburg. This week he has 100,000 reasons to stay in the lead until the checkers wave with a $100,000 bonus on the line. The bonus from the track was announced Friday prior to practice.

Rossi was .159 seconds behind in second and knew precisely where he lost the time.

“The thing that’s bothersome is that it was a good lap, but (Power) has nearly 60 poles for a reason,” Rossi said. “I missed it a bit in the final corner to open the lap, so I knew I was climbing an uphill battle from there.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:46.323) rounded out the top three.

Rookie contender Colton Herta (1:46.359) makes it would appear practice may be overrated. He missed most of Friday after blowing an engine in Practice 1. Herta got a few laps on track with the soft red tires during an added session for pit stop practice and as a result had an idea of what to expect in Saturday’s time trials. That allowed him to post the fourth-fastest time.

Chip Ganassi teammate Felix Rosenqvist (1:46.568) and Scott Dixon (1:46.938) will line up on row three.

“I haven’t really gelled with the track,” Dixon said after qualification. “It’s been frustrating even with the test we had here. It hasn’t been for a lack of laps. … The car has speed. We’ve seen that through (teammate) Felix.”

Watch the race on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN or at NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app

INDYCAR Photo
Will Power scored his second consecutive pole at Circuit of the Americas. (Chris Jones, IndyCar)

Round 1 proved to be critical for several of the top drivers. In Group 1, Jack Harvey spun in the closing moments, which caught Sebastian Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe on track and unable to complete their fastest lap. They both failed to advance to Round 2.

In Group 2, Tony Kanaan spun with 30 seconds remaining to bring out the red flag. As a result, he lost his two fastest laps and did not advance to Round 2. The incident also caught out Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti.

It was the second time in two races that Bourdais and Pagenaud were unable to advance because of red flags in Round 1.

Josef Newgarden benefitted from the incident. He was posted seventh at the time of the red flag, but moved up one spot and advanced to Round 2 with Kanaan’s penalty.

Newgarden could not quite find the speed to advance to the Fast Six.

“We knew it was going to be tight once the weekend progressed,” Newgarden said on NBCSN after failing to advance to the Fast Six. “And it just wasn’t enough; it wasn’t a good enough lap. I missed a bit to start the lap in (Turn) 19. You have to take a lot of risks with the way we’re running it.”

IndyCar removed track limits from Turn 19, allowing drivers to go over the curb and into a wide run-off area to keep their momentum up.

Click here for complete qualification results

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Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.