Graham Rahal takes first IndyCar pole position in six years at Indianapolis

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It’s once again qualifying time for the Indy GP in cloudy conditions after a single practice session. Will either Christian Lundgaard or Alex Palou manage to score a second pole in Indianapolis this year?

Group 1 features all Arrow McLaren, Penske and Dale Coyne Racing drivers as well as Defrancesco, Harvey, Kirkwood, Ferrucci and Herta. The best early lap is put in by Alexander Rossi in 1:10.5508, followed by Defrancesco, Harvey, O’Ward, Power and Herta.

After a round of pit stops, many drivers on the outside looking in put in strong efforts in order to try and make the cut to the Fast 12, like championship contender Josef Newgarden and Nashville race winner Kyle Kirkwood.

However, their final attempts are not enough for either of them, as through are Defrancesco, Harvey, O’Ward, McLaughlin, Rossi and Rosenqvist. The only Andretti driver advancing so far holds the best time of the day in 1:10.2805s. It’s not a positive day for Team Penske as reigning champion Will Power is out already as well.

After the first round of attempts in Group 2, Alex Palou holds provisional P1 in 1:10.7532s, with Lundgaard, Castroneves, Dixon, Grosjean and Armstrong completing the Top 6 before the final attempts on fresh rubber.

Grosjean, who has already achieved a pole on the track, goes fastest for a bit, but his time is shattered by Lundgaard putting in a 10:0031s. Ultimately, all Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing drivers are through to the Fast 12 as Graham Rahal slots in P2 0.200s off his teammte’s pace.

Photo credits: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Grosjean, Castroneves, Palou and Armstrong are through as well, with rookie driver Marcus Armstrong bumping out his much experienced teammate Scott Dixon and Meyers Shank Racing’s Lundqvist slotting in between the two.

The young Swedish driver is out by less than a tenth of a second of what would have been his second Fast Twelve appearance in his second ever Indycar race.

Round 2 of qualifying starts with a much stronger wind than in the previous segments, as well as even more clouds in the sky.

Grosjean is the first driver of the session to enjoy a short trip into the grass almost five minutes in the session, when 2016 Indy 500 race winner Alexander Rossi is leading with his best provisional time of 1:10.4878s.

He is joined in the provisional Top Six by Harvey, Lundgaard, Castroneves, O‘Ward and Defrancesco. Ganassi’s Armstrong briefly snatched the lead from the Arrow McLaren driver, but it’s short lasted as Rossi sets a 1:10.124s.

The first lap of the weekend in the 1:09s is signed by Graham Rahal in 1:09.9837s, but he is not satisfied with it, mentioning brakes issues.

He is advancing to the Fast Six alongside his RLL teammate Lundgaard, Rossi, Grosjean, O’Ward and Defrancesco, as no Penske or Ganassi driver will be fighting for pole.

The Canadian driver’s first attempt in the last qualifying segment1:10.8193s puts him in P2, behind by 0.300s Lundgaard’s best attempt. Grosjean, O’Ward and Rahal complete the provisional top 5, as Rossi’s first attempt puts him in P1.

But track evolution is consistent as Grosjean and O’Ward both make short lived apperances in P1. Lundgaard’s final attempt of 1:10.2286s secures his front row start, but it’s not enough for the top spot.

His teammate Graham Rahal scores his first pole position in six years (Belle Isle, 2017) signing a 1:10.1132s.

The second row features both Arrow McLaren drivers, Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward, as the two Andrettis of Defrancesco and Grosjean will line up on the third row, for the Canadian driver’s best qualifying result ever in Indycar.

After a very tough month of May for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with Rahal being bumped out and all three cars having to qualify through the Last Chance route, the team has been slowly but steadily improving, leading to his younger Danish teammate getting his first ever race win. Now it’s Rahal’s moment to reap the fruits of his and his team’s hard work.