Will Power will start from the pole as Scott McLaughlin opens his IndyCar career from 21st on the streets of St. Petersburg in Florida.
McLaughlin was 10th fastest in practice but, not surprisingly, slipped back when it came time to qualify.
The two Aussies were at the opposite end of the time sheets but Power was on one of his favourite tracks while McLaughlin was still adjusting to everything including the red-striped Firestone soft-compound tyres used as the ‘alternate’ race tyre and qualifying rubber in IndyCar.
“We were probably better than where we ended up. But I stuffed up my red tire lap – I just need to get used to the grip,” said McLaughlin.
“It was nice in practice because I had a lot of black tire runs but only got one on the red, and it was the same in qualifying.
“I’m not making any excuses. With a little more time, we will be OK .”
As aways, the transplanted Supercars champion was tough on himself as he marked his effort.
“I’m disappointed with myself, but it is what it is. It’s tough to learn on a road course and learning the space around you.
“I’m used to knocking mirrors off on a wall, not necessarily my tire. We are just pushing trying to find our limits in a fast-forward motion.”
Typically, he is now looking forward to his first IndyCar start and learning more about St. Petersburg, which will also be the first track of the 2021 championship when he starts his racing life as a full-time IndyCar racer.
“We will have a go at it tomorrow,” said McLaughlin.
While McLaughlin was learning, Power was right on top at one of his favourite tracks.
He scored his second straight IndyCar pole, his fifth of the 2020 season and his ninth from 12 attempts at St.Pete.
“I just absolutely nailed it, man,” Power said.
“Really, really good lap. I had to work the wheel hard for that one. I’m so stoked to get the Verizon car on pole again.”
He admitted the lap was a special one.“I’m able always to take it to another level, and I can only do it once a weekend, I reckon,” Power said.
“It’s something I love. I just absolutely love getting the most out of something and perfecting a craft I’ve been working at for 25 years.”