until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Departing Rosenqvist takes pole for final McLaren IndyCar start

by Jack Benyon
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Felix Rosenqvist took his second IndyCar pole of the season in his last race for Arrow McLaren, beating Scott McLaughlin by 0.0097s in a storming qualifying session at Laguna Seca.

A resurfaced track has provided so much grip that the g-forces involved mean correcting a car through certain corners is near impossible, with the 21 red flags recorded across Thursday’s test and Friday’s practice session given another boost with two red flags in qualifying.

Two-time 2023 race winner Kyle Kirkwood said “I think you’ll see people crash because they just can’t turn the wheel” in Sunday’s race.

Rosenqvist was McLaren’s only representative In the Fast Six pole shootout and went under the radar throughout qualifying, but usurped Christian Lundgaard – who himself had just gone top – with his fastest lap at the very end of the session.

Penske’s McLaughlin was tracking ahead on the timing screen with two corners to go, but did not ruin a fairytale lap for Rosenqvist, whose car is carrying a ‘thank you FRO’ sticker in his final race with McLaren before switching to Meyer Shank Racing for 2024.

His lap was almost five seconds quicker than Will Power’s pole last year.

It marks a fifth IndyCar pole for Rosenqvist, who last won at Road America in 2020 for Ganassi.

McLaughlin – who said he made an error at Turn 10 on his lap – and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Lundgaard were both denied a season-record third pole of the year.

Lundgaard set a new qualifying track record in Q2, destroying the 1m07.722s set by Helio Castroneves in 2000 with a 1m06.4610s, with Rosenqvist’s pole only two tenths slower than that.

Josef Newgarden was fourth, ending the season without a pole for the first time in his Penske career.

Scott Dixon tried running a fresh hard tyre in the Fast Six instead of the used softs like his rivals, but was over three tenths adrift in fifth, beating Ganassi team-mate Alex Palou – who sealed the 2023 championship last weekend at Portland.

Sensational Rahal Letterman Lanigan rookie Juri Vips was seventh in only his second IndyCar qualifying session having made the most of the pre-event test to learn the track.

While he has a six-place grid penalty for an engine change, he nevertheless gave his #30 car the best possible chance of being in the Leaders Circle – a contract between IndyCar and the teams that awards just under $1million for the top 22 full-season entrants.

That entry is currently nine points clear of remaining inside the top 22.

Rinus VeeKay’s improved end of season form continued with eighth in qualifying, ahead of Power and Romain Grosjean, in his last start for Andretti Autosport. Grosjean was the team’s only representative in the Fast 12 segment.

Santino Ferrucci was an impressive 11th for AJ Foyt but like Vips will receive a six-place penalty for using another engine over his limit, while Pato O’Ward spun at Turn 4 – having crashed there in the morning practice – and was 12th. The Laguna Seca season finale is a crucial race for determining if he will qualify for a Formula 1 superlicence.

Graham Rahal was the only RLL driver not to make it through Q1 and blamed dirt on the track caused by Sting Ray Robb going off for missing out by 0.0637s. He qualified 14th, having taken pole for the last two road course races.

Colton Herta went out in the first group, after Ryan Hunter-Reay’s late spin set up a one-lap shootout that favoured whoever set their lap last.

Herta, who has two poles at the venue, was 15th, while Alexander Rossi – who has never been out of the top three in qualifying here – was 17th, with Marcus Ericsson 19th in his last race with Chip Ganassi Racing.

In the rookie of the year battle, Marcus Armstrong is 26 points ahead of Juncos Holinger’s Agustin Canapino. Ganassi’s Armstrong qualified 16th while Canapino was a season-high 13th – five places better than his previous best – but has a six-place penalty for taking a sixth engine when four are allowed in the season.

In the Leaders Circle battle, Devlin DeFrancesco is the last car in the 22 set to get the payout as things stand.

He qualified 26th, with his closest rival Tom Blomqvist (three points behind) in 21st and Canapino (five points behind) also ahead even after his penalty is applied.

The manufacturers’ battle between engine suppliers Honda and Chevrolet – Honda leads by 16 points – is still up for grabs in Sunday’s race, too.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.24s 1m06.757s 1m06.641s
2 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m06.876s 1m06.566s 1m06.651s
3 Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m06.877s 1m06.461s 1m06.747s
4 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.125s 1m06.782s 1m06.793s
5 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07s 1m06.778s 1m07.017s
6 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.16s 1m06.615s 1m07.284s
7 Jüri Vips Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.13s 1m06.83s
8 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.267s 1m06.917s
9 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.168s 1m06.928s
10 Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.066s 1m07.129s
11 Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.147s 1m07.447s
12 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m06.845s 1m07.519s
13 Agustín Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.4s
14 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.232s
15 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.466s
16 Marcus Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.372s
17 Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.542s
18 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.402s
19 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.614s
20 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.518s
21 Tom Blomqvist Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.741s
22 David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.781s
23 Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m07.758s
24 Sting Ray Robb Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.863s
25 Ryan Hunter-Reay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.062s
26 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m07.908s
27 Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda
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