IndyCar | GP of Monterey | Qualifying | Palou gets strong pole ahead of Kirkwood and Rosenqvist

Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski
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Group 1 saw out on track the Juncos Hollinger Racing and the AJ Foyt drivers as well as Power, McLaughlin, Dixon, Rossi, Armstrong, Rasmussen, Rahal, Malukas and Siegel behind the wheel of Arrow McLaren’s car no 6.

Latest race winner Power goes on top with a 1:11.35, alongside Rossi, Grosjean and McLaughlin. The Penske driver’s effort was improved by the two Ganassi drivers in the group, but Power was able to return on top shortly after.

After his big crash in FP2 ECR’s Christian Rasmussen is provisionally in the advancing zone. At the halfway point in the segment Dixon leads in 1:08.51s, followed by McLaughlin, Rossi, Ferrucci, Siegel and Grosjean, whereas Malukas in his first race of 2024, with MSR back from his severe wrist injury is in last place and running wide off track.

It is however incredibly tight, as Rasmussen is less than 0.100s off the Frenchman’s time. Canapino goes fastest as the first driver in the 1:07s. Track is evolving as time goes by, with Malukas, Grosjean, McLaughlin, Armstrong and Rossi all cycle at the lead.

Ultimately Grosjean is able to make the P1 stick, with Rossi, Armstrong, Dixon, McLaughlin and returning Malukas advancing as well to the Fast 12.

Surprisingly holder of the most pole positions in the IndyCar history Power is unable to make the cut, settling in P8 of the group.

Herta shines again with a 1:08.7s in Group 2 after a strong practise run earlier, followed by Kirkwood, Palou, Harvey and Lundgaard. At the halfway point in the session his Floridian teammate takes P1 by 0.5s, followed by Palou, O’Ward, Herta, Ghiotto and Lundqvist.

Photo credits: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski

It’s a positive moment for Dale Coyne Racing as they provisionally have both their drivers in, but track evolution plays yet again an important role. Rosenqvist has a moment at Turn 3 but is able to make the cut, with Lundgaard kicking out 500 winner Newgarden on last flying lap.

Palou, Herta, Kirkwood, O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Lundgaard move forward to the Fast 12. Dixon ran off track at the beginning of Round 2

Grosjean is fastest next in 1:08.19s, with his time improved by Herta shortly after and Kirkwood, Lundgaard, Rossi an Palou in the clear as well. McLaughlin, the only Penske driver still in the mix, has a moment and runs over the kerbs.

Reigning champion Palou slots in P2 with a 1:08.106s, ahead of an improving Grosjean. The JHR driver is also the first to sign a lap in this round in the 1:07s, taking the P1 from the Andretti driver by 0.5s. In the final moments of the session, Palou goes on top with a 1:07.2s, and is joined in the Fast 6 by Kirkwood, Herta, Rosenqvist, last comer Rossi who knocks out McLaughlin and Lundgaard.

Herta had a moment, which allowed him to do one of his famous last minute rally saves, with Grosjean mentioning impeding while on hid final lap in an on track interview, calling the stewards for action.

Kirkwood signs the first an dfastest lap of the final qualifying segment of the day ikn 1:07.7s, 0.1s ahead of the only Chevy car left, Rossi’s no.7 and Palou. Lundgaard, on a different strategy, gets in provisional P2.

The final set of attempts however turned the situation upside down: Herta gets P2 on used reds, while Palou goes fastest, but track evolution can still affect the outcome of the session even after the chequered flag.

The reigning champion doesn’t need to work more on his lap and has to back off from his last attempt, securing pole position with a 1:07.146s, ahead of Kirkwood and Rosenqvist, with Herta, Rossi and Lundgaard very close by.

Tune in tomorrow for the 95 laps long race!