until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Graham Rahal on IndyCar pole for first time in six years

by Jack Benyon
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Graham Rahal snatched his first pole position in six years at the last possible moment from his team-mate Christian Lundgaard at the Indianapolis road course, while there were big championship implications for Alex Palou and Josef Newgarden.

Rahal – who was beaten to pole by less than a tenth at Mid-Ohio earlier this year – has had all sorts of misfortune at Indy.

A wheel came off after a pitstop when he was well positioned to fight for the win in 2021, and then he was bumped out of the 500 totally by his team-mate Jack Harvey earlier this year.

It was an emotional rollercoaster for the team that won the 500 in 2020, and Rahal was left in tears having failed to make that event.

Fast forward to this year’s road course race and he was fastest in practice and then in Q2, despite complaining of a long brake pedal and some understeer.

With the last remaining lap, he snatched the pole from Lundgaard – who himself was on pole at this track earlier this year – by just 0.1154s. It means the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team have scored pole at both Indy road course races.

His last pole came at Detroit in 2017. “It isn’t a win, but it feels like it,” he said.

It means Honda scored its 10th pole of the season out of 14 races, too, ending a run of three straight Chevy poles.

Behind Lundgaard, Alexander Rossi equalled his best qualifying of the season in his first year at Arrow McLaren, ahead of team-mate Pato O’Ward.

Devlin DeFrancesco was arguably the star of the day with his first Fast Six performance in his two-year IndyCar career for Andretti, beating team-mate Romain Grosjean to fifth.

Gallagher Grand Prix Friday August 11 2023 Ref Image Without Watermark M89546

Outside of the pole battle, all eyes were on the implications of the title fight, with four races remaining in the series.

Palou – who only needs to finish ninth in each of the remaining four races to win the title currently holding an 84-point lead – qualified in ninth and will start eighth because of a penalty for another driver while Newgarden starts 19th after a disaster session.

Palou was two tenths off making the pole shootout Fast Six, a feat he did manage in the May race at this track qualifying third, and then won.

Neither of Palou or Newgarden’s team-mates made the pole shootout meaning Ganassi and Penske were absent from the pole battle.

Newgarden was struggling with his car in practice and followed that up in qualifying where he was just behind team-mate Will Power, who starts 17th.

Newgarden smashed the pitbox with his hand and looked disconsolate. If there’s any positive, it’s that he saved a set of soft tyres he will be able to use in the race by not making it through.

Further forward, and outside of the top six, rookie Marcus Armstrong qualified 0.0008s off making it through to the pole shootout in an incredible margin at the first track he visits for the second time.

It’s still the Kiwi’s best IndyCar qualifying run as he continues to get better and better through the season.

Jack Harvey was the worst qualifying Rahal car in eighth – still his second-best qualifying of the year – ahead of Palou and the lowest McLaren, of Felix Rosenqvist.

Scott McLaughlin and Helio Castroneves were the last cars in the top 12.

Castroneves was guaranteed of his best road and street course qualifying since Laguna Seca in 2022 after he made it out of the first group, on the day it was announced he would scale back to an Indy 500-only Meyer Shank car next season with Tom Blomqvist taking a full-time ride at the team.

However, a six-place grid penalty for taking an extra engine for this weekend than the four allowed across a season earned a penalty, bumping him back to 18th.

Grid alterations with penalties applied

7 Armstrong
8 Palou
9 Rosenqvist
10 McLaughlin
11 Herta
12 Lundqvist
13 Kirkwood
14 Harvey
15 Dixon
16 Power
17 Ericsson
18 Castroneves
19 Newgarden

Ace rookie Linus Lundqvist dazzled on his Nashville debut for Meyer Shank last week when he made it to Q2 and qualified 11th, and missed out on advancing from Group 1 by 0.0873s as he’ll start 12th as the first driver not to make it through, boosted two spots by the other penalties.

Lundqvist’s only misdemeanour was stopping in Lundgaard’s pit box!

Perhaps surprisingly, Andretti’s pairing of Colton Herta and last week’s Nashville winner Kyle Kirkwood will start in 11th and 13th respectively.

They will jump to 11th and 13th with Harvey and Castroneves’ penalties.

Ganassi suffered from having all four cars in the same group in Q1, so Scott Dixon (16th) and Marcus Ericsson (18th) failed to make it through. They each jump up a spot with the Harvey and Castroneves penalties.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.209s 1m09.983s 1m10.113s
2 Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.003s 1m10.007s 1m10.228s
3 Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.405s 1m10.012s 1m10.293s
4 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.342s 1m10.15s 1m10.345s
5 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.28s 1m10.209s 1m10.393s
6 Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.312s 1m10.148s 1m10.402s
7 Marcus Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.369s 1m10.21s
8 Jack Harvey Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.342s 1m10.222s
9 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.365s 1m10.297s
10 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.411s 1m10.438s
11 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.385s 1m10.478s
12 Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.319s 1m10.52s
13 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.439s
14 Linus Lundqvist Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.457s
15 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.486s
16 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.5s
17 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.523s
18 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.634s
19 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.615s
20 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.724s
21 Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.646s
22 Ryan Hunter-Reay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.008s
23 David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.868s
24 Agustín Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.061s
25 Sting Ray Robb Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.565s
26 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.102s
27 Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.297s
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks