LEXINGTON, Ohio — The race for the IndyCartae championship looks like a major shakeup at the Media Ohio Sports Car Course, where many of the leading title contenders were buried in the first line. Pato O’ward won the pole insert the 1961 brand into the series.
O’Ward has become the ninth pole winner in nine races this season — the first time that he’s done in 61 years — and the McLaren SP driver Arrow now has an IndyCar points lead.
The current day record for different drivers begins the 10th season of winning the pole in 1952.
“He’s a huge man, he is a track position race,” O’Ward said of the obstacles crossing the 13-mile Middle Ohio, 2,258-mile course. “It’s a long race. A lot can be done, but we have a great start.
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Sunday’s championship race will start with astonishing traffic among the leaders on the horizon.
Marcus Ericsson, Will Power and Josef Newgarden were all unable to advance to Saturday’s first qualifying group, then beat dominant streak champion Alex Palou in the second round.
“IndyCar, man,” Palou shrugged.
It gave O’Ward and Scott Dixon a huge opportunity to get a tough ground in the championship race. O’Ward and Dixon were the only two drivers ranked in the top six of the championship to progress to the final round Saturday to qualify; O’Ward placed fourth in post, 45 points behind Ericsson, while Dixon trails Ericsson Racing teammate Chip Ganassi by 69 points.
O’Ward’s Scott McLaughlin followed up in qualifying as Team Penske drivers swept Chrysler first in the order. Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport was third for Honda and O’Ward teammate Felix Rosenqvist was fourth.
Dixon and Simon Pagenaud of Meyer Shank Racing led third in a row for the Hondas.
A pair of early mistakes hindered the two leaders in creating the championship.
Indianapolis 500 winner Ericsson said Clay would kick back in his track start. The current IndyCar points leader will start 13th. Power was fined for interfering with Helio Castroneves’ lap.
Newgarden said he was responsible for the traffic.
“IndyCar is just simply, sometimes it’s downright trivial and you have no problems,” Newgarden said. “It’s a tight track and we go out early and get slowpokes all the time.”
Power, which leads Ericsson with 27 points in post, has had two fastest runaways and will start 21st. Team Penske said it was a mistake, which likely would cost him a chance of winning on Sunday.
“In this series, something can happen, but you’re not going to cut back on many cars. You will not win, so do it,” Power said. “On weekends when you got a car that you can’t win, you can’t do it. This is for us, we were not over it, and this is right.’
Tatiana Calderon has qualified for the series with her future in the series due to hardships.
Colombian drivers were scheduled to take all road racing and street racing at AJ Foyt Racing this season, but sponsor ROKiT Group is behind on their payments. Foyt still brought Calderon to Mid-Ohio, which he tried to keep track of earlier this year while composing his contract.
It will start 26, but the future 11 11 Chevrolet isn’t guaranteed beyond Sunday. Post ROKiT solutions in No. Kyle Kirkwood was driven in 14th. The company has moved partner sponsor Sexton Properties to its main position in the car in Kirkwood in Mid-Ohio, and company president Larry Foyt is working to short-pay the expense. No time for running.
Graham Rahal qualified 18 for his 250 IndyCar career to start, and will come to a consistent track positioned near Rahal Letterman’s original guard against Lanigan’s Hilliard. Rahal grew up in the Columbus area.
Here is the IndyCar starting line for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the 13-turning, 2,258-mile road race (position, number of cars in parentheses, driver, machine, time, speed);
1. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:06.7054 (121.861 mph)
2. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:06.8382 (121.619);
3. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:07.0262 (121.278)
4. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:07.2163 (12.935).
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:07.4047 (12.597)
6. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:07.4199 (12.570)
7. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:06.7965 (121.695)
8. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:06.8201 (121.652).
9. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 01:06.9506 (121.415)
10. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:06.9534 (121.410)
11. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:06.9843 (121.354).
12. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:07.0155 (121.297)
13. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:07.1475 (121.059)
14. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:07.3338 (12.724).
15. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:07.1798 (121.001)
16. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:07.4207 (12.568)
17. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:07.2573 (12.861).
18. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:07.5909 (12.265).
19. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:07.4645 (12.490)
20. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:07.6475 (120.164)
21. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:07.5559 (12.327).
22. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:07.6745 (120.116)
23. (4) Dal Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:08.2444 (119.113)
24. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:07.9362 (119.653)
25. (16) Simona De Silvestro, Chevrolet, 01:08.4995 (118.669).
26. (11) Tatiana Calderon, Chevrolet, 01:08.4370 (118.778)
27. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:08.5318 (118.614)
IndyCar Mid-Ohio starting lineup: Pato O’Ward in pole position as title contenders first appeared in NBCSports.com