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USA USA
Qualifying report
IndyCar Laguna Seca

IndyCar Laguna Seca: Palou edges Kirkwood to pole by 0.073s

Ganassi’s two-time champion pips Andretti and Meyer Shank Racing cars, points leader Power to start 15th in Monterey

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda P1 Pole Award

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou stormed to pole after a dramatic qualifying bout for the IndyCar Series at Laguna Seca.

The Spaniard went out on a used set of softer alternate tires and delivered a 1m07.1465s flying lap to earn the top spot for Sunday’s race on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn natural terrain road course. It is the fifth pole of Palou’s career.

Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood took second by a narrow 0.0739s, with Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist continuing his strong run of qualifying performances this season in third.

Fast Six qualifying

Kirkwood set the early tone with a 1m07.7047s flying lap, ahead of Rossi’s run that was 0.1930s behind.

All six drivers were swapping between used sets of softer alternate tires, having gone through them in the push to advance into the pole fight.

Colton Herta, who led second practice, handed out a strong response with a 1m07.2972s lap to go to the top in his No. 26 Andretti Global Honda, but it was temporary as Palou dished out a 1m07.1465s flyer to snatch pole.

“It was really tough, really tight qualifying to get to the fast 12 and then into the Fast Six,” said Palou, the two-time and reigning IndyCar Series champion. “It was great.

“It was really tricky with the track conditions. As soon as there was some wind, you couldn’t really finish the lap because there was no grip. But really happy.

“The car was on rails today; best starting position for tomorrow.”

Kirkwood then fought back with a 1m07.2204s lap to climb to second, with Rosenqvist quietly progressing to third.

Herta was fourth, ahead of Chevy-powered Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi and the No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda of Christian Lundgaard was sixth.

1
 - 
3
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval Mph
1 Spain A. Palou Chip Ganassi Racing 10 5

1'07.1465

119.988
2 United States K. Kirkwood Andretti Global 27 4

+0.0739

1'07.2204

0.0739 119.856
3 Sweden F. Rosenqvist Meyer Shank Racing 60 4

+0.1452

1'07.2917

0.0713 119.729
4 United States C. Herta Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian 26 4

+0.1507

1'07.2972

0.0055 119.720
5 United States A. Rossi Arrow McLaren 7 4

+0.2129

1'07.3594

0.0622 119.609
6 Denmark C. Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 45 5

+0.3647

1'07.5112

0.1518 119.340

Top 12 qualifying

With less than two minutes to go, Romain Grosjean went to the top with a lap of 1m07.5116s in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.

But Palou’s stout 1m07.2786s dethroned Grosjean, who dropped dramatically down the running order and out of the top six as Kirkwood, Herta, Rosenqvist, Lundgaard and Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin all went quicker.

Rossi handed out some last-gasp heroics to jump into fifth, dropping Lundgaard to sixth and knocking out McLaughlin from transferring on by a narrow 0.0269s.

“It’s tight,” McLaughlin said. “I had a little slide through one of the quick corners, Turn 6, running around the back there and when you lose that momentum down the hill it really hurts you.”

Grosjean attempted to fight back, but still fell short in eighth.

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward reported a vibration early in segment while on the harder primary tires before switching to the softer alternate compound but couldn’t benefit from it and was left in ninth.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon took 10th, ahead of team-mate Marcus Armstrong.

David Malukas, making his first start of the season and also with new team Meyer Shank Racing, took 12th. 

1
 - 
3
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval Mph
1 Spain A. Palou Chip Ganassi Racing 10 8

1'07.2572

119.791
2 United States K. Kirkwood Andretti Global 27 6

+0.0269

1'07.2841

0.0269 119.743
3 United States C. Herta Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian 26 7

+0.0578

1'07.3150

0.0309 119.688
4 Sweden F. Rosenqvist Meyer Shank Racing 60 6

+0.0585

1'07.3157

0.0007 119.687
5 United States A. Rossi Arrow McLaren 7 8

+0.1066

1'07.3638

0.0481 119.601
6 Denmark C. Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 45 8

+0.1153

1'07.3725

0.0087 119.586
7 New Zealand S. McLaughlin Team Penske 3 8

+0.1422

1'07.3994

0.0269 119.538
8 France R. Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Racing 77 6

+0.1714

1'07.4286

0.0292 119.486
9 Mexico P. O'Ward Arrow McLaren 5 7

+0.2328

1'07.4900

0.0614 119.378
10 New Zealand S. Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 9 8

+0.3302

1'07.5874

0.0974 119.206
11 New Zealand M. Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing 11 8

+0.3571

1'07.6143

0.0269 119.158
12 United States D. Malukas Meyer Shank Racing 66 6

+0.5850

1'07.8422

0.2279 118.758

Group Stage qualifying

In Group 1, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Agustin Canapino delivered the first staggering time on alternates, delivering a stout 1m07.8976s lap to go to the top of the leaderboard with less than two minutes to go.

He was dethroned by Malukas, who was then moved off the top spot by Armstrong. Rossi nailed a 1m07.7175s lap to jump to the top in the final seconds, but was moved by Grosjean’s 1m07.6813s lap.

Grosjean, Rossi, Armstrong and Dixon advanced, along with McLaughlin and Malukas.

Canapino was the first driver on the outside of the transfer spot, falling just 0.0721s off from Malukas. Team Penske’s Will Power ended up eighth, with AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci ninth.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal was 10th. Rookie Christian Rasmussen, who crashed in second practice, was 11th in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. Nolan Siegel, in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, took 12th, with AJ Foyt Racing’s Sting Ray Robb in 13th.

1
 - 
3
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval Mph
1 France R. Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Racing 77 7

1'07.6813

119.040
2 United States A. Rossi Arrow McLaren 7 8

+0.0362

1'07.7175

0.0362 118.977
3 New Zealand M. Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing 11 8

+0.0395

1'07.7208

0.0033 118.971
4 New Zealand S. Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 9 8

+0.0483

1'07.7296

0.0088 118.955
5 New Zealand S. McLaughlin Team Penske 3 8

+0.1118

1'07.7931

0.0635 118.844
6 United States D. Malukas Meyer Shank Racing 66 7

+0.1442

1'07.8255

0.0324 118.787
7 Argentina A. Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing 78 7

+0.2163

1'07.8976

0.0721 118.661
8 Australia W. Power Team Penske 12 8

+0.3365

1'08.0178

0.1202 118.451
9 United States S. Ferrucci A.J. Foyt Enterprises 14 7

+0.3531

1'08.0344

0.0166 118.422
10 United States G. Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 15 7

+0.4109

1'08.0922

0.0578 118.322
11
C. Rasmussen Ed Carpenter Racing
20 7

+0.6898

1'08.3711

0.2789 117.839
12
N. Siegel Arrow McLaren
6 8

+0.9972

1'08.6785

0.3074 117.312
13
R. Robb A.J. Foyt Enterprises
41 7

+1.4491

1'09.1304

0.4519 116.545

In Group 2, Herta’s lap of 1m07.7151s set the tone and went to the top, but quickly gave way to Palou’s 1m07.2751s, which set the mark for the group.

Herta responded back with a 1m07.3090s lap, which was still 0.0339s behind in second.

Kirkwood, O’Ward and Rosenqvist also moved on, but Josef Newgarden’s hopes to transfer into the top 12 faded in the final seconds after Lundgaard delivered a lap that bumped him out by 0.1159s to take the final transfer position.

“I think it was just me today,” Newgarden explained. “I think our car was good, I just struggled to put it together. I’ll try to make it up tomorrow.”

Behind Newgarden’s No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet in seventh was Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Linus Lundqvist.

Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson ended up a disappointed ninth, ahead of Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay in 10th and CGR rookie Kyffin Simpson in 11th.

 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Pietro Fittpipaldi was 12th, ahead of the Dale Coyne Racing duo of Jack Harvey and Luca Ghiotto.

1
 - 
3
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval Mph
1 Spain A. Palou Chip Ganassi Racing 10 8

1'07.2751

119.759
2 United States C. Herta Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian 26 7

+0.0339

1'07.3090

0.0339 119.699
3 United States K. Kirkwood Andretti Global 27 7

+0.0481

1'07.3232

0.0142 119.673
4 Mexico P. O'Ward Arrow McLaren 5 8

+0.1074

1'07.3825

0.0593 119.568
5 Sweden F. Rosenqvist Meyer Shank Racing 60 6

+0.1465

1'07.4216

0.0391 119.499
6 Denmark C. Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 45 8

+0.3336

1'07.6087

0.1871 119.168
7 United States J. Newgarden Team Penske 2 8

+0.4495

1'07.7246

0.1159 118.964
8 Sweden L. Lundqvist Chip Ganassi Racing 8 8

+0.5305

1'07.8056

0.0810 118.822
9 Sweden M. Ericsson Andretti Global 28 7

+0.6482

1'07.9233

0.1177 118.616
10 Netherlands R. van Kalmthout Ed Carpenter Racing 21 8

+0.7146

1'07.9897

0.0664 118.500
11 United States K. Simpson Chip Ganassi Racing 4 8

+0.8820

1'08.1571

0.1674 118.209
12 Brazil P. Fittipaldi Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 30 7

+0.9073

1'08.1824

0.0253 118.165
13 United Kingdom J. Harvey Dale Coyne Racing 18 8

+1.1979

1'08.4730

0.2906 117.664
14 Italy L. Ghiotto Dale Coyne Racing 51 8

+1.2327

1'08.5078

0.0348 117.604

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USA USA