INDIANAPOLIS – Gresham Wagner earned his second-career pole position in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.
He will share the front row for Friday’s race with Michael Carter.
Wagner saw the 2.439-mile infield road course for the first time during Wednesday’s track walk, but you wouldn’t know it based on the times he laid down in Thursday’s 20-minute qualifying session.
“First impression: the track is kind of a mixed bag, with some fast corners and some really slow sections,” Wagner said. “It is a different surface as well in terms of the grip that it has and how the car behaves, so it can be tricky to find the limit and keep the speed up, especially in the slower sections.
“In qualifying, I was able to get through my own lap pretty well and then caught a straightway draft. I think that’s what you have to do to be fast on a single lap here.”
Wagner demolished the previous qualifying lap record (1:44.1367 seconds set in 2017 by Patrick Gallagher) with a pole time of 1:41.5506 seconds. His only other Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup pole position came at Barber Motorsport Park in 2019.
Behind him is a pair of teammates: Michael Carter and Jared Thomas. Carter is last year’s Mazda Road to 24 Scholarship winner and Thomas is this year’s recipient. Carter has raced at this circuit previously, while Thomas has not, although he is an Indiana native.
Despite his lack of experience, Wagner is confident he can get through the start without issue.
“I think you need to commit to your line, wherever that might be, not be moving under braking, and really just assert yourself down to the apex,” he said.
Wagner’s teammate Selin Rollan qualified fourth, while current points leader Robert Noaker will line up fifth for the round three race.
Liam Snyder was the fastest qualifier in the ND.1 category for the previous generation Mazda MX-5 Cup car.
With the second quickest lap of the session, Carter has the provisional pole for Round Four, also taking place on Friday.
Teams will have a short turnaround between races, but Wagner doesn’t believe he’ll approach the first race apprehensively.
“I think you always have to race without a bunch of ‘what ifs’ in your head,” Wagner explained. “At the same time, it’s important to not do anything stupid. You just need to use the same common sense you always do and not be thinking about the next one. Just racing hard but smart as always.”