Sunday, May 26, 2019

Power Off the Pace in Fast Six

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The driver most known for being a threat during NTT IndyCar Series qualifying was left scratching his head after day one of the abbreviated INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend.

While Colton Herta executed the only 1:07 lap of qualifying in Round 2, Will Power crossed the timing line 0.2634 seconds slower on his best lap. The effort was good enough for fourth and punched Power’s ticket to the Firestone Fast Six.

The Australian driver representing Team Penske had placed sixth in his group during Round 1 but, given his usual qualifying prowess, could reasonably be expected to be more competitive in the final round featuring the fastest six drivers.

The 56-time pole sitter provided to be far from competitive in his fourth Fast Six out of five in 2019. Per INDYCAR’s Top Section Times document, Power was the slowest Fast Six participant through eight sections of the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, including the three main sectors.

Power was slowest in the Fast Six from the yard of bricks to later on the frontstretch as well as down the Hulman Boulevard backstretch, from the end of the esses to Turn 11 and exiting the final turn and reaching full speed back onto the main straight.

Will Power prepares for IndyCar practice in Verizon 5G Indy car at Indianapolis
Will Power won the 2015, 2017 and 2018 runnings of the INDYCAR Grand Prix. | Photo: Gannon Burgett / The Apex

Qualifying for his 209th Indy car race, Power was 0.1486 seconds slower than Jack Harvey around the opening sector, which lasts from the start/finish line through the first six turns and onto the backstretch. Similarly, Power was 0.1916 seconds slower than Dixon who was fastest through the middle sector from the beginning of the backstretch to the alternate start/finish line used for practice and qualifying at Turn 11 near Turn 2 of the superspeedway.

Adding those two sectors together, Power was 0.3402 seconds behind his Fast Six competitors on their ideal laps. Factoring in the third sector from Turn 11 back to the bricks, the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner was 0.5189 seconds off the fastest ideal qualifying lap based on the top times through the trio of sectors.

Also slowest at three out of four speed traps during the final qualifying round, Power was unable to identify why he lacked speed around the unique road course.

“That was a serious lap I did to be sixth — and not just sixth but like four tenths off the next guy or something,” Power said.

“We can’t really put our finger on where we’re slow. We know we’re slow actually on the straights, so that’s one area. I’m not sure why. … It’s kind of confusing for us because the cars don’t feel that bad. Actually they feel pretty reasonable. We don’t quite understand why we’re slow.”

It wasn’t all bad for Power during the six-minute conclusion to qualifying. He was fast through Turn 7 at the end of the backstretch — a key passing zone — and navigated the tight corners before returning to the frontstretch slower than only Herta.

Power Granted Points Opportunity

Beyond showing flashes of brilliance in those sections, Power received the gift of poor qualifying performances for the top two drivers in the championship standings. Both Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden were eliminated during the first round of qualifying, earning significantly worse starting positions than Power’s third-row place.

With Rossi set to roll off 17th and Newgarden a bit further ahead in 13th, Power will aim to capitalize on a qualifying result that, when considered with a broader perspective, kept precisely 75% of the field behind him for the race’s start.

“It’s about time that we had just a good clean race and a good result and made some points back,” Power said. “I hope it plays out that way.”

When the green flag flies at 3:50 p.m. EDT Saturday, reducing his 73-point deficit and moving forward from sixth in the standings will be Power’s focus during 85 laps around the IMS road course.

Aaron Durant
Aaron Duranthttp://aarondurant.com
Aaron brings a developing design and editorial vision to The Apex every day and co-hosts The Braking Point podcast every week. As editor-in-chief and an avid reader, Aaron enjoys aligning his relentless care for quality with an interest in counterintuitive approaches.

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