until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Grosjean takes phenomenal first IndyCar pole at Indianapolis

by Jack Benyon
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Romain Grosjean took a first pole position since he raced in GP2, heading the Indianapolis road course session in just his third race weekend in IndyCar.

Dale Coyne Racing driver Grosjean was spectacular throughout the session, comfortably making the ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole for the first time, having come so close in the season opener at Barber.

May 14 : Romain Grosjean on his IndyCar progress

He showed no signs of rustiness despite missing the last two races at Texas as he won’t compete on ovals this year, but jumped straight back in to grab pole in one of the most competitive series for qualifying in the motorsport world.

Grosjean confirmed he’d struggled with the car in the first part of qualifying but engineer Olivier Boisson had made great changes, and even though he made an error on his first flying lap his follow-up attempt was good enough for pole.

He beat double IndyCar champion and Penske driver Josef Newgarden by 0.1269s to secure the position, who in turn beat Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey.

Alex Palou missed much of the first practice session with a water leak, but was the only Chip Ganassi Racing car to make it into the final 12 and qualified fourth.

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Rookie Scott McLaughlin – making his first ‘Fast Six’ like Grosjean – made sure two Penske cars were in the top five and qualified fifth, ahead of Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly, scoring his first road course appearance in the final six shootout.

In seventh, last October’s race one pole sitter at this track, Rinus VeeKay, narrowly missed out on the ‘Fast Six’, while the other pole sitter from that weekend Will Power spun at the start of the equivalent of Q2 so starts 12th.

Behind VeeKay, St Petersburg winner Colton Herta will start eighth on the day he signed a new multi-year deal with Andretti Autosport, while Ed Jones had his best qualifying of his IndyCar return for Dale Coyne Racing in ninth.

Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud and Power rounded out the top 12.


As per 2021 IndyCar, the finest margins decide qualifying and a host of star names missed out on advancing from the two initial qualifying groups.

The biggest names missing out came in Group 2, where Alexander Rossi (above), reigning champion Scott Dixon and the last IndyCar winner, Patricio O’Ward at Texas, finished seventh through ninth.

Dixon – a winner on this track in 2020 – had a component failure in practice two which meant he hadn’t driven on the soft tyres before qualifying, but has made charges through the field at this venue before including in 2018 where he started 18th and finished second.

Felix Rosenqvist – polesitter here in his rookie year in 2019 – wasn’t able to turn his pre-race optimism that the Arrow McLaren SP team had made his car easier to drive, missing out on Q2 by 0.0182s.

He’ll start 13th ahead of Rossi, Marcus Ericsson, Dixon, Takuma Sato and O’Ward in 18th.

It was a disappointing session for NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson who will start 23rd.

Returning to a track he tested at last year – with two 45 minute practices today to refresh – and with two races under his belt, he couldn’t produce the smallest deficit to the fastest in the session of his season so far, just over 1.5565s slower than VeeKay in group one.

He locked up and went in to the run-off at Turn 1 which cost him what he thought would be the peak grip on the softer, red labelled tyre.

Juan Pablo Montoya had missed out on graduating from Group 2 in his first IndyCar race since 2017, but the Arrow McLaren SP driver suffered insult to injury when his two fastest laps were taken after he was judged to have impeded Palou, who still went second fastest in that group, in the braking one at Turn 7.

Montoya starts at the back, in 25th.

This weekend’s race takes place on Saturday, at 1430hrs ET (1930hrs BST).

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.855s 1m09.547s 1m09.439s
2 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.61s 1m09.783s 1m09.566s
3 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.758s 1m09.518s 1m09.652s
4 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.658s 1m09.474s 1m09.711s
5 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.753s 1m09.772s 1m09.714s
6 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.764s 1m09.562s 1m09.866s
7 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.489s 1m09.818s
8 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.586s 1m09.822s
9 Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.715s 1m09.854s
10 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.806s 1m09.872s
11 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.791s 1m09.906s
12 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.896s
13 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.824s
14 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.901s
15 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.838s
16 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.951s
17 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.866s
18 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.072s
19 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.875s
20 Sébastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.183s
21 Charlie Kimball A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.681s
22 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.617s
23 Jimmie Johnson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.045s
24 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.931s
25 Juan Pablo Montoya Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.137s
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