AUSTIN – Red flags in NTT IndyCar Series qualifying can make or break a session for a team because they halt the qualifying round at the most opportune -- or inopportune -- times. In the case of the ABC Supply team today, the red flag did both.
Matheus Leist posted a career-best qualifying effort on a permanent road course when he qualified the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet 12th for the INDYCAR Classic at the beautiful Circuit of the Americas on the outskirts of the Texas state capital.
Teammate Tony Kanaan was not quite so lucky as he brought out the red flag during that same session by spinning on his fastest lap in the first round of qualifying, bringing it to an end. The penalty incurred by a driver causing a red flag to stop the session is to lose his two fastest laps which relegated Kanaan to the end of the grid. He will start 24th.
Leist advanced to Round 2 for the first time since Toronto in July where he qualified 12th on the temporary street course.
“I think it was a lucky day for me – I finished 12th in qualifying and am looking forward to the race tomorrow,” the 20-year-old said. “I think we still need to work on race pace, so we have to focus tonight in our debriefing, work for tomorrow and hopefully we’re going to have a good race.”
For Kanaan, the session was another blow in what has been a tough weekend at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course known by its acronym COTA.
“Very difficult day for us,” Kanaan said. “We struggled all weekend with speed. In qualifying you always think you can do better, you can make a difference, and I should know better with my experience. I overdrove the car but obviously trying to put this team where we belong, so I made a mistake and spun. It would have been good for a top 14 I think, but when you spin you lose your fastest lap so we’re starting dead last for tomorrow. So a lot of cars to pass but we’ll keep it positive.”
Will Power won his 56th career pole position and second straight in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season with a time of 1:46.0177 (115.792). The feat made him eligible to win the $100,000 bonus posted by COTA to the driver who wins both the pole and the race.
Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six are: Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Colton Herta, Felix Rosenqvist and Scott Dixon.
The 60-lap race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 1 p.m. ET Sunday as well as NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.