Will Power continued Penske’s domination of IndyCar’s first race weekend at Austin to take his 56th career pole position ahead of Sunday’s race.
Power took the top position on his very last flying lap, knocking Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi into second place on the grid with a 1m47.017s, and was the only Chevrolet-powered driver to qualify inside the top six.
Rossi’s team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay managed to take third on the grid ahead of Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta, who had held a surprise provisional pole into the final minute.
Herta will start fourth ahead of the two Chip Ganassi Racing drivers of Felix Rosenqvist and Scott Dixon.
Rosenqvist stunned in the Round of 12 by lapping over half a second quicker than Power to ensure his place in the Fast Six shootout.
Dixon was less comfortable, having to rely on a last-lap flyer to squeeze into the Fast Six as several drivers posted better times in a flurry of improvements.
Josef Newgarden was one of the drivers to fall on the wrong side of those quicker times. Having topped a Friday practice session, he will now start seventh after Herta made the Fast Six at his expense.
Behind Newgarden is Carlin’s Patricio O’Ward, starting eighth, in his first event for his new outfit, outqualifying his team-mate Max Chilton was who is 13th after O’Ward’s late improvement in the second group pushed Chilton away from advancing into the Round of 12.
Andretti’s Zach Veach was unable to find enough time to make the Fast Six and ended up in ninth ahead of Graham Rahal and Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci.
Matheus Leist impressed to make it into the second phase of qualifying and his place in that stage was made certain when his AJ Foyt Racing team-mate Tony Kanaan slid off the track at the high-speed Turn 19 into the gravel and caused a red flag.
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Jack Harvey had a similar incident at the same corner that caused a red flag in the first stage.
It came late enough into the first group of qualifying that it resigned Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais to an exit and is 17th on the grid.
Harvey’s red flag also prevented James Hinchcliffe from improving and left him 15th on the grid, with his Arrow SPM team-mate Marcus Ericsson a place behind following a crash in the third practice session ahead of qualifying.
Harvey and Kanaan’s red flag-causing incidents meant their lap times were deleted, placing them 23rd and 24th on the grid respectively.