Qualifying could decide winner on Sunday Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama may very well be decided Saturday. With passing on the 2.38-mile road course at Barber Motorsports Park expected to be at a premium, how well a driver qualifies Saturday may well decide the race.
“Qualifying is really important,” said Penske driver Will Power, winner of the first two races of the season and the fastest driver in both practice sessions on Friday.
“You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the pack if you have a fast car,” Power said.
Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kanaan, who was second fastest during practice, said qualifying will be “50 percent of the race,” but that’s not entirely because of the difficult nature of the track.
The closeness of the competition this season is just as significant.
“When you’re running a second apart on a 14-corner track, a second is nothing,” Kanaan said.
Indeed, lap times from Power’s 1 minute, 11.1857 seconds to Alex Lloyd’s 13th-fastest time were separated by about a second on Friday.
Marco Andretti also expects qualifying to be close.
“Two-tenths (of a second) is going to separate everything really,” he said. “It’s going to be super close. You just have to make all the right decisions and keep moving forward.”
But a driver also can’t be too careful, Andretti said.
“I think you just need to throw it down,” he said. “You’ve got to be patient, but everything that a car is going to offer you, you need to pull out of it as far as lap time goes.” AL.com