Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix | IndyCar Qualifying | McLaughlin pips Power and Lundgaard to pole at Barber

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Jones
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Round 1, Group 1

Scott Dixon posted the first time of the session with a 1:10.2763.

However, it was Alex Palou who absolutely smashed the field on the first runs as he was the fastest driver on the first, second and third timed laps. A 1:06.1772 put him almost 0.4s clear of teammate Marcus Armstrong. Ferrucci, O’Ward, Lundqvist and Kirkwood completed the top 6 before everyone switched to the alternates.

Rahal, Grosjean, Ghiotto, Dixon, Herta, Simpson and Robb found themselves with work to do to try and make the next round.

The reigning champion continued his dominance on the reds as a 1:05.5862 saw him top Group 1 by over 0.250s from Pato O’Ward. Armstrong and Rahal also got into the 1:05s, with Grosjean and Kirkwood making it through on 1:06.0s.

The top 2 in the championship missed out as Dixon and Herta could only manage 7th and 8th. Ferrucci, Lundqvist, Ghiotto, Simpson and Robb rounded out the order.

The Italian did a great job on debut to be within 0.4s of making it through.

Round 1, Group 2

The Team Penske’s of McLaughlin and Power led the way on the first runs in Group 2. A 1:06.5886 had the Kiwi narrowly ahead of the Australian.

Rosenqvist, Rossi and Lundgaard were also in the 1:06s. Ericsson completed the top 6 with a 1:07.0.

Newgarden, Harvey, Blomqvist, Rasmussen, Fittipaldi, Canapino, VeeKay and Pourchaire completed the order with 3 minutes remaining. The Dutch driver complained of no power before boxing and did not return to the track.

Team Penske dominated in the end as McLaughlin’s 1:05.8147 put him over 0.2s clear of Power, with Newgarden a tenth further back to complete a 1-2-3. Lundgaard, Rosenqvist and Blomqvist also made it through as Meyer Shank Racing got both cars into the next segment.

Christian Rasmussen would have made it through but a big snap on the exit of turn 12 cost him dearly as he missed out by just under three hundredths.

Rossi, Ericsson, Canapino, Harvey, Pourchaire, Fittipaldi and a gutted VeeKay also exited.

Round 2

Will Power kicked things off in Round 2 with a 1:09.1994.

Romain Grosjean continued his strong form as a 1:06.8326 put him top on the primary tyre. Palou and Armstrong in the CGRs also did 1:06s. McLaughlin, Lundgaard and Rahal completed the top 6.

Power, Rosenqvist, O’Ward, Newgarden, Kirkwood and Blomqvist needed to improve to get in.

The big surprises came on the reds. A 1:05.8130 from Christian Lundgaard by just over half a tenth from Will Power.

The Kiwis of Scott McLaughlin and Marcus Armstrong did 1:05.9s to be P3 and P4, with O’Ward and Rosenqvist squeezing through on 1:06.0s.

A furious Graham Rahal was extremely unhappy with his team after they told him to stay out when he had backed off and was heading for pit road. Newgarden, Kirkwood, Palou, Grosjean and Blomqvist rounded out the order.

Palou had a mysterious lost of pace in Round 2 as the Spaniard was 0.8s slower compared to Round 1, Group 1.

Fast 6

It was Will Power once again who kicked things off in the battle for pole as he logged a 1:06.3354. However, a 1:06.3295 moments later by Scott McLaughlin saw him usurp his stablemate by a few thousands of a second.

On his second set of reds, a 1:06.0460 from Will Power put him clear of the field by almost 0.3s, before Christian Lundgaard got within half a tenth.

However, Scott McLaughlin came back once again as a 1:05.9490 put the New Zealander on pole. Getting aggressive through turns 12 and 13 was critical to getting the P1 award.

Behind the 2 Team Penske cars, Lundgaard, O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Armstrong completed the Fast 6 order.

McLaughlin will go for the win at Barber for a second year in a row as he looks to get his campaign going following the St. Pete DSQ and his DNF at Long Beach.