Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg marks the IndyCar Series’ final event and the one that will decide the championship contender. But at the end of a messy qualifying session came a little bit of the familiar: Will Power took pole position for the last race of the year.
Qualifying was set to be crucial today, since Josef Newgarden needs as many points as possible in order to catch up and surpass championship leader Scott Dixon. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a disaster. Conor Daly’s team wheeled his car back to the paddock after his second session, since he didn’t qualify in the Fast 12 session composed of the six fastest qualifiers of each session. But penalties brought him back into the Fast 12, so everything was put on hold while everyone got situated.
And he wasn’t the only one. Stewards were a bit confused about who messed up qualifying and needed to be penalized and who would be making it into the Fast 12. It was a bit of a disaster and a very unsatisfying denouement to an otherwise exciting IndyCar season. The delay took over 30 minutes.
Both Dixon and Newgarden progressed to the Fast 12 after the whole scoring kerfuffle. Dixon looked to be having a difficult time controlling the car, and Newgarden also sat outside the top six. Neither man progressed into the Fast Six for a chance at pole position. Newgarden’s chances at scoring a win grew even slimmer.
Newgarden will start Sunday’s race in eighth place. Dixon will start back in 11th. The two will have to race it out for points. As a reminder, Newgarden needs to win the race and have Dixon finish 11th or lower in order to defend his championship.
Scott McLaughlin, three-time Australian Supercars champion, announced last night that he’ll be joining the IndyCar Series paddock full time in 2021. He joined up with the grid for the final race of the 2020 season to get a taste of what he’s getting himself into. He brushed the wall in qualifying and will start in 21st. He would have started last, but drivers were relegated to the back due to penalties.
Top 5 Starting Positions
1. Will Power
2. Alexander Rossi
3. Colton Herta
4. James Hinchcliffe
5. Jack Harvey