Power survives Indy 500 qualifying scare

·2-min read

Team Penske hoped it could turn the corner on a dreadful Indianapolis 500 qualifying weekend after Will Power locked up the No.32 starting spot despite hitting the wall.

But there was no such luck.

On Sunday, Australian star Power was one of five drivers fighting for the three spots in the final row of the starting grid for the May 30 race.

The 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner, one of the greatest qualifiers in IndyCar history, was not going to miss the show even if it meant a scrape with one of the tracks' safety barriers on turn two at almost 370km/h.

"This really gives you respect," Power said after surviving the last row qualification battle.

"Definitely lose a little bit of sleep over that one, just knowing you have to execute."

Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon will start from pole, the 40-year-old Kiwi will be joined by the two youngest drivers in the field on the front row.

Colton Herta, 21, will start from second with Rinus VeeKay, 20, qualifying third fastest.

Less than 30 minutes into Sunday's two-hour, post-qualifying practice session, 2019 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud blew an engine on the No.22 Chevrolet.

About 30 minutes later crew members and Chevrolet officials were back on pit lane, checking Power's engine.

Power made it back on the track. Pagenaud did not.

Chevy-powered cars have struggled on Indy's historic oval each of the past two years and no team has felt the pinch more than the one owned by Roger Penske.

Since Pagenaud drove to his first 500 win from the pole in 2019, Team Penske haven't put a single driver in the nine-car pole shootout.

Rookie Scott McLaughlin - the three-times Supercars champion - was the fastest of this year's four Penske drivers, starting from the No.17 spot, and just the second top-20 qualifier for Penske over the past two years.

Even worse, Penske has just one win in their past five races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the track Penske purchased from Tony George in January 2020.

The good news: Penske still has a week to work out the kinks before race day.