Rahal takes second IndyCar pole in three races as he beats McLaughlin by a narrow margin

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Graham Rahal took a superb pole position at Portland for Rahal Letterman Lanigan and was the sole driver to set his best time on the Primary tyres in the Fast six.

Scott McLaughlin set the second quickest time for Team Penske, marginally ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta.

Group 1 yielded plenty of talent, including the reigning IndyCar champion Will Power, Herta and former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean.

Herta topped the timesheets early into the 10-minute session with a 58.8916 before quickly being usurped by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who will take a six-place grid drop for an engine change.

With six minutes to go, American driver Rahal held the quickest time ahead of Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist as Power sat in a lowly ninth place.

Grosjean improved to the top before quickly being dropped to third behind Herta and British driver Callum Ilott. Rosenqvist topped the session ahead of Herta, Josef Newgarden, Rahal, Power and the Juncos driver.

At the green light, all 14 cars flooded onto the track in Group 2. A group that featured the remaining Arrow McLaren, all four Ganassi cars and series newcomer Juri Vips in the number 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan car.

The Championship leader, Alex Palou, set the pace early, with a 58.8129 ahead of his only title challenger Scott Dixon.

Vips made an error at Turn 1, clattering the inside kerb and skipping over the runoff area, ruining his flying lap.

Palou continued to hold the best time with five minutes to go ahead of New Zealander McLaughlin and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Augustin Canapino.

A minute later, the cars returned to the pit lane to change to another set of Alternate tyres. Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi languished outside the top 10.

The former improved to third place as Rossi claimed fifth place, dropping Vips outside the top six needed to qualify for the Fast 12.

Marcus Armstrong improved time-wise as the chequered flag fell but only managed P7, missing out by just half a tenth.

Palou topped the timesheets ahead of McLaughlin, O’Ward, Dixon, Rossi and Marcus Ericsson, who all qualified for the next round of qualifying.

All the Arrow McLaren’s, Team Penske’s and a trio of Ganassi cars qualified for the Fast 12 alongside Rahal, Ilott and Herta.

Dixon set a 59.2422 to go quickest as Newgarden crashed into the wall at Turn 12, ending his session and causing a red flag with seven minutes to go.

After a lengthy delay, the session resumed with Dixon setting the pace ahead of Rosenqvist. Power crept into sixth place with his banker lap on the Primary tyres and before switching to the softer Alternate tyres.

The Swede was stranded in the pit lane in the final minute and got eliminated from qualifying.

McLaughlin went to the top ahead of Herta, and Rahal stole sixth place from Power, knocking out the Australian from the session.

The New Zealander became the sole Team Penske driver to qualify for the Fast 6 alongside Herta, O’Ward, Dixon, Rahal and championship leader Palou.

Palou set the quickest lap early on and was closely challenged by Rahal and Mexican driver O’Ward before the McLaren driver switched to the Alternate tyres.

The American driver chose to stay on the Primary tyres and usurped Palou, setting a 58.3195 with two minutes remaining. McLaughlin got incredibly close on used alternates but narrowly missed out.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver’s time was good enough to take pole position and of McLaughlin and Herta. Dixon will line up in fourth ahead of title rival Palou and O’Ward.