Rosenqvist pips McLaughlin at Laguna Seca to take IndyCar pole ahead of final start for McLaren

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Ahead of qualifying, we knew that Agustin Canapino, Juri Vips and Santino Ferrucci would take 6-place grid drops for unapproved engine changes. Vips broke down in first practice, with Ferrucci grinding to a halt during second practice earlier today.

Round 1, Group 1

The Arrow McLaren of Alexander Rossi kicked things off in group 1 with a 1:10.7892 on the primary tyre. He lowered it to a 1:08.5832 on his attempt but got narrowly beaten by Rosenqvist and VeeKay moments later.

Meyer Shank Racing’s Tom Blomqvist vaulted to the top on reds with a 1:08.0315, before Scott Dixon was the first driver into the 1:07s, logging a 1:07.6931. Rosenqvist continued to show impressive speed as he banged in a 1:07.6509.

At the end of the first runs before everyone switched to the alternates, Rosenqvist led Dixon, Vips, Rossi, Grosjean and Herta.

Blomqvist, Ferrucci, VeeKay, Ericsson, Pedersen, Canapino and Hunter-Reay needed to improve in the final four minutes to book a spot in the top 6.

A cracking lap by Juri Vips on reds put him on top as he did a 1:07.1305. Others were also improving but a red flag had to be thrown with 1:27 left as Ryan Hunter-Reay spun at turn 11 and lost the engine.

In spite of only having one lap at the end, the times tumbled. Scott Dixon ended fastest with a 1:07.0002, followed by Grosjean who was just over half a tenth slower. Vips’ effort before the red flag left him in a strong 3rd.

The biggest surprises came from Santino Ferrucci and Agustin Canapino. The AJ Foyt driver moved himself into P4 with the very last lap of round 1. It knocked out the Juncos driver who put in a stonking lap to be 7th.

Rosenqvist and VeeKay also made it through. The Dutchman went full send on the exit of turn 9 and it paid off.

Joining Canapino in getting knocked out were Herta, Rossi, Ericsson, Blomqvist, Pedersen and Hunter-Reay.

Round 1, Group 2

2023 champion Alex Palou led group 2 early on as he banged in a 1:07.9442, almost 0.2s clear of Pato O’Ward. Rahal, Robb, Ilott and Newgarden completed the top 6.

A red flag was brought out with 7:24 to go as Helio Castroneves spun at turn 3. He put his left hand wheels on the kerb and lost the rear. The four-time Indy 500 winner got beached in the gravel.

When the session resumed, McLaughlin stuck with the primaries for a lap and banged in a 1:07.8193 to go fastest.

However, that was soon beaten by Lundgaard as the RLL driver put in a 1:07.1921 on the softer red tyre. The Dane went even quicker on his next attempt to pump in a 1:06.8777.

Ultimately, though, Pato O’Ward’s 1:06.8459 would be the fastest time in the second group, 0.03 quicker than

McLaughlin. Lundgaard, Newgarden, Palou and Power also advanced from this group.

A very frustrated Graham Rahal missed out by just under a tenth as he lamented the car not turning at the first corner and Robb kicking up dust and dirt ahead of him at turn 3.

Armstrong, Kirkwood, Ilott, Malukas, Robb, DeFrancesco and Castroneves also got knocked out.

Fast 12

Once again it was Christian Lundgaard showing great pace as the Dane logged a 1:07.2786 on the primaries early in the session. Newgarden, Palou, O’Ward, McLaughlin and Grosjean completed the top 6 before everyone switched to the reds.

VeeKay, Dixon, Rosenqvist, Ferrucci, Vips and Power needed to make the biggest gains to get themselves into the top 6.

On the reds, Lundgaard delivered again by posting a 1:06.4610 to top the Fast 12, a tenth clear of Scott McLaughlin. The Dane’s rapid lap was the fastest on the day and destroyed the old lap record following the repavement of the circuit earlier this year.

A 1:06.6 for Palou and 1:06.7s from Rosenqvist, Dixon and Newgarden saw them make it through as well.

A great effort from Juri Vips saw the Estonian narrowly miss out in P7, but he will be taking that 6-place penalty for an engine change. VeeKay, Power, Grosjean, Ferrucci and O’Ward also exited at this stage of qualifying.

It was huge frustration for the Mexican in the Arrow McLaren as he was rapid in round 1. He spun at turn 4 and went through the gravel, although he managed to avoid the tyre barrier. Despite his best efforts, the engine died on him.

Fast 6

Scott McLaughlin started things off in the final segment as a 1:07.0886 put him on top, just over a tenth quicker than Lundgaard. Rosenqvist, Newgarden, Dixon and Palou rounded out the order with 2:30 left.

The CGR of Scott Dixon went for the primaries and vaulted to the top with a 1:07.0171. However, Newgarden bumped him as a 1:06.7937 moved him into P1.

After butchering his penultimate lap at the Corkscrew and losing over half a second, Lundgaard threw away a certain pole. Although he did go top with a 1:06.7478 on his next attempt, it would be beaten.

A brilliant, clean lap by Felix Rosenqvist saw the Swede take pole position, his fifth in IndyCar. His 1:06.6416 saw him take top spot by 0.01 from Scott McLaughlin. A perfect final qualifying session with Arrow McLaren before heading to Meyer Shank Racing next year.

Lundgaard, Newgarden, Dixon and Palou completed the top 6 following a thrilling qualifying session.