With the Firestone Fast 12 and Fast Six knockout rounds completed for the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden took the 16th pole of his career and the first since Long Beach in 2021, taking the #2 Chevy for a mad dash around the bumpy street circuit in 1m15.2153s.
“I was a coward,” exclaimed Newgarden. “I was about to hit the wall in every corner. It was so loose, but I just had to stay in it. It was a good pole. We put it together; I’m really proud of it. crew.
Takuma Sato held pole until Newgarden – the last driver to cross the timing line – edged out No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda by 0.1337s. It was a stellar performance for the Coyne team as Sato’s rookie teammate David Malukas took sixth place on his first trip to the final qualifying round.
“You can’t underestimate these boys,” Sato said of his loss to Newgarden, who took their third pole at Belle Isle. “We were just a little short. Two cars in the top six; it really is a team effort.
Similar to DCR, Meyer Shank Racing also entered qualifying with Simon Pagenaud taking third place in the #60 Honda (+0.1798s) just ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves in the #06 Honda MSR (+0.2385 s). Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward was a distant P5 in the #5 Chevy (+1.1148s) and the aforementioned Malukas in the #18 DCR with HMD Motorsport Honda (+1.3951s).
Once the Fast 12 session was over, a few drivers were less than happy as their final laps had become insignificant when Romain Grosjean hit the wall with the left side of the car entering the final corner, which broke the rear toe link left and sent the Andretti Autosport driver spinning back into the wall. The Frenchman of Swiss origin does not appear to have been injured in the accident.
Unable to finish their races at full speed, the big losers included Grosjean’s teammate Colton Herta in P7 who was the best driver for the Andretti team, a frustrated Marcus Ericsson in P8 who was the best for the Chip Ganassi Racing team, teammate Scott Dixon in P9, Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin in P10 and the Andretti duo of Alexander Rossi in P11 and Grosjean in P12. In the pile of drivers trying to create free space to complete unhindered qualifying laps, Ericsson was unimpressed with Dixon’s efforts.
“It’s a shame when it’s your own teammate who makes you miss the Fast Six,” Ericsson said. Dixon acknowledged the incident after the session, adding: “I think I backed off in [Ericsson] who probably screwed him up.
Some heavyweights missed the cut to enter the Fast 12, led by Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, Penske’s Will Power and Ganassi’s Alex Palou.
“I lost all grip on my third lap; I don’t know what happened there,” said VeeKay, who starts P14. “We are way off the mark.”
VeeKay’s teammate Conor Daly (P13) was the first to miss the Fast 12 transfer in the first qualifying group; VeeKay was the first to miss in the second group. For Power – who thought he was being held back by Palou but wasn’t, according to an IndyCar race control review – it will be another long ride to the front of the field.
“Man, this track is so hard to qualify,” Power said after earning a P16 starting position. “We just missed. It is what it is, man.
Palou will start well behind his leading teammates in 18th.
“It’s not the best session for us,” he said. “We will have to work a little harder tomorrow and try to get them.”
Notable performers included Kyle Kirkwood, who recovered from a right hand injury following his crash on Saturday morning when the brakes on his AJ Foyt Racing Chevy failed and put the #14 car in P15, and Juncos Hollinger Racing under Santino Ferrucci who kissed the exit wall on his final lap but still managed to earn 17th place in the #77 Chevy.
Among others disappointed after qualifying, the struggles of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team refused to let up. Led by Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey on line 10, the RLL drivers will start P19 and P20, with Graham Rahal in P23.
NEXT: Warm-up, Sunday, 10:15 a.m. ET
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