AUSTIN, Texas – Will Power never needs any additional incentive to win the pole.
The Team Penske driver likes his role as the king of speed in the NTT IndyCar Series with 55 poles in his career, second on the all-time list to Mario Andretti’s 67.
There is a little more incentive for Power and any driver in the NTT IndyCar Series at Circuit of the Americas this weekend.
Any driver that wins Sunday’s IndyCar Classic from the pole will collect a $100,000 bonus from COTA.
Power loves money, but he loves speed even more.
Power was the fastest in Friday’s combined practice sessions when he raced his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet around the 20-turn, 3.41-mile Circuit of the Americas at 1:47.4401 for a speed of 114.529 mph. The Australian racing great was the fastest driver in Friday’s combined practice sessions for Sunday IndyCar Classic.
“I don’t think it matters,” Power said of the bonus. “Everyone is going for pole. Doesn’t matter how much. Even if it was a million bucks, everyone is putting in as much as they can because they want to get the pole, win the race. You’re never out there thinking it’s worth $100,000, you’re just out there wanting to beat everyone.”
Power’s time was just bit faster than Swedish rookie driver Felix Rosenqvist’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda at 1:47.6150 (114.073 mph).
“It’s very technical,” Power said of COTA. “It’s hard to get the car right. I felt like we got in a pretty good window that session and felt like we found where we need to be.
“You can do all these miles in testing, come back and it’s different for the race. You get the basics down, get some good data and such to go away and think about it.
“I’m definitely running a different package to what I ran at the test. We’ll just keep massaging on it. It’s going to be tight; it always is. I think the weather looks pretty good actually. We will have a nice weekend.”
Rosenqvist, a 27-year-old rookie from Sweden, finished fourth in his NTT IndyCar Series debut March 10 during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He led 31 laps in that race.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver expects tire degradation to play a big role in Sunday’s race.
“The tires seem to go off quite a lot,” Rosenqvist said. “Managing that is going to be the key. Everyone just got, like, one or two laps on the Reds (softer, faster alternate tires), then it’s a big question mark how they’re going to behave in the race without laps on them in the warmup session.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting one. It’s a big question mark, like it always is in this area. That’s kind of exciting. We felt pretty good so far.
“I think it’s going to be good, fair qualifying where everyone can get a lap in. Surprised sometimes how much traffic you can get on such a big track.
“Let’s hope it’s a good session and we come out on top.”
Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi, who competed in the 2015 United States Grand Prix Formula One race at COTA for Manor Racing, was third on Friday at 1:47.9311 (113.739 mph) in a Honda. Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay was fourth at 1:48.1209 (113.540 mph) in another Honda.
Ed Jones, who suffered a broken ring finger in a crash at St. Petersburg on March 10, was fifth in a Chevrolet at 1:48.1597 (113.499 mph).