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Qualifying report
IndyCar Portland

IndyCar Portland: Graham Rahal takes pole, Newgarden crashes

Graham Rahal scored pole position for the penultimate round of the 2023 IndyCar season at Portland in his Honda-powered Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry.

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Rahal put down a flying lap of 58.3195s to best the 27-car field at the 1.964-mile, 12-turn natural terrain road course.

It is the second time this season Rahal has captured the top spot, which he last accomplished in 2009.

Fast Six qualifying

Rahal set his pole-winning time on a set of primary, black sidewall tires. Despite the other five drivers swapping to alternate, red sidewall tires, no one was able to dethrone Rahal.

The best of the rest was Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, who was 0.033s off the pace.

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta qualified third, followed by the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Dixon and Alex Palou. Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward closed out the group’s running in sixth.

Cla Driver  Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 58.3195   5
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 58.3525 0.0330 5
26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 58.4576 0.1381 3
9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 58.5803 0.2608 5
10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 58.6492 0.3297 5
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 58.6737 0.3542 6

Top 12 qualifying

The session was interrupted by a red flag less than three minutes in after Josef Newgarden buried his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet into the tire barriers at Turn 12.

The Tennessee native, who admitted it was self-inflicted, dropped his left side wheels into the dirt on the exit of Turn 11, which resulted in a broken steering gear-shifter. It put an end to his qualifying effort; he will start 12th.

"Unfortunately, I made a mistake, I got in a little too hot,” Newgarden said. “I tried to get off the brake but still I got wide and into the wall so, I just hate making a mistake. It can happen whenever, and it happened then"

Upon the resumption, Scott McLaughlin went quickest at 58.0777s, followed by Herta, O’Ward, Dixon, Palou and Rahal.

Beyond Newgarden, others that failed to make it through included his team-mate, Will Power, who missed the cut by 0.0531s. Power will start seventh.

Callum Ilott (Juncos Hollinger Racing), Alexander Rossi (Arrow McLaren), Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Felix Rosenqvist (Arrow McLaren) also didn’t make it through.

Rosenqvist reported an issue and wasn’t able to make a final attempt to advance.

For his part, Rossi hasn’t had the most pleasant of race weekends: "We've been struggling this weekend to get the balance right, we've been either one side of it or the other,” he said.

“The conditions being different, session to session, has been some of it. We're swinging a little too far one way or the other so we just need to figure that out and make our window a little bit bigger for the race. We've got to be able to rebound quicker [from bad practice sessions] that we have, but starting ninth isn't bad but you want more than that."

Cla Driver  Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 58.0777   9
26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 58.2338 0.1561 9
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 58.2579 0.1802 8
9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 58.2653 0.1876 8
10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 58.3232 0.2455 7
15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 58.3248 0.2471 9
12 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 58.3779 0.3002 9
77 Callum Ilott Dallara/Chevrolet 58.4973 0.4196 5
7 Alexander Rossi Dallara/Chevrolet 58.5023 0.4246 6
10  8 Marcus Ericsson Dallara/Honda 58.5479 0.4702 8
11  6 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara/Chevrolet 59.3053 1.2276 6
12  2 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 59.7466 1.6689 2

Group stage qualifying

In Group 1, Rahal set the fastest time on the primary tires at a lap of 58.3956s. However, the swap to alternate tires immediately sparked a rotation at the top, which ended with Rosenqvist at the top by session’s end with a fast lap of 57.8967s – which stood as the fastest lap of the day overall.

Herta and Newgarden came across second and third, respectively. Others to advance were Rahal, Power and Ilott.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay was the first that failed to advance, running a 58.3240s lap that left him 13th on Sunday. Romain Grosjean was left upset about traffic once he finished up his run, with the Andretti Autosport driver set to start 15th.

Despite being fastest in Friday’s opening practice, and quick on Saturday’s second practice, RLL’s Christian Lundgaard ended up on the wrong end of the cut line, ending up ninth in the group and with a 17th-place start. The Dane wasn’t pleased with the traffic impeding a chance for a proper run.

"What really happened is that people go out of the pits and just drive around really slowly and we didn't get our second lap and that's it,” Lundgaard said. “It's obvious we've been fast and right now [I'm] full of frustration so I don't really have anything good to say."

Ryan Hunter-Reay (Ed Carpenter Racing), Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport), Santino Ferrucci (AJ Foyt Racing) and Sting Ray Robb (Dale Coyne Racing) were the rest that failed to advance.

Cla Driver  Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
6 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara/Chevrolet 57.8967   8
26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 58.0843 0.1876 7
2 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 58.0890 0.1923 9
15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 58.1612 0.2645 7
12 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 58.1913 0.2946 9
77 Callum Ilott Dallara/Chevrolet 58.3075 0.4108 8
21 R.van Kalmthout Dallara/Chevrolet 58.3240 0.4273 8
28 Romain Grosjean Dallara/Honda 58.3522 0.4555 8
45 C.Lundgaard Dallara/Honda 58.3678 0.4711 7
10  20 Ryan Hunter-Reay Dallara/Chevrolet 58.6529 0.7562 7
11  29 D.Defrancesco Dallara/Honda 58.6748 0.7781 8
12  14 Santino Ferrucci Dallara/Chevrolet 59.0633 1.1666 8
13  51 Sting Ray Robb Dallara/Honda 59.2642 1.3675 8

In Group 2, championship leader Palou made his presence felt on both the primary and alternate compounds by going quickest on both versions of rubber. The Spaniard’s best run came on alternates, jetting to a flying lap of 57.9651s.

McLaughlin, the defending race winner who led Saturday morning’s practice bout, was second. O’Ward was third, followed by Dixon. Rossi got into the top six in fifth, followed by another Ganassi challenger in the form of Ericsson.

Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Marcus Armstrong was the first driver out of the second group to not advance, missing by 0.07s. He will start 14th.

"I put on my reds and for, whatever reason, they just didn't switch on really,” Armstrong said. “We're miles off really, we should've been closer to the front."

Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport) also failed to move on, ending up eighth in the running and will start 16th.

Juri Vips, who is making his IndyCar debut with RLL, had an eventful run, missing the apex in Turn 1 and sliding over the curbing in the run-off area at Turn 2 before rejoining the circuit in Turn 3. The Estonian’s maiden qualifying bout was a respectable enough on pace that will see him start 18th.

Rookie Augustin Canapino (Juncos Hollinger Racing), Helio Castroneves (Meyer Shank Racing), David Malukas (Dale Coyne Racing with HMD), along with rookies Benjamin Pedersen (AJ Foyt Racing) and Tom Blomqvist (Meyer Shank Racing) failed to progress into the Fast 12.

Cla Driver  Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 57.9651   8
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 58.0525 0.0874 8
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 58.1025 0.1374 8
9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 58.3701 0.4050 8
7 Alexander Rossi Dallara/Chevrolet 58.4637 0.4986 8
8 Marcus Ericsson Dallara/Honda 58.5952 0.6301 8
11 Marcus Armstrong Dallara/Honda 58.6652 0.7001 8
27 Kyle Kirkwood Dallara/Honda 58.6835 0.7184 7
30 Jüri Vips Dallara/Honda 58.7454 0.7803 9
10  78 Agustín Canapino Dallara/Chevrolet 58.7753 0.8102 8
11  06 H.Castroneves Dallara/Honda 58.8006 0.8355 8
12  18 David Malukas Dallara/Honda 58.9016 0.9365 8
13  55 B.Pedersen Dallara/Chevrolet 59.2175 1.2524 9
14  60 Tom Blomqvist Dallara/Honda 59.4364 1.4713 8
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