until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Newgarden on pole, IndyCar title rivals only eighth and 10th

by Jack Benyon
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Championship outsider Josef Newgarden stormed to pole position in the Long Beach IndyCar finale, in a messy session where his rivals were eighth and 10th.

In road and street course qualifying, the entry is split into two and the fastest six from each group go through to the next segment. The fastest six from that group go into the final six-car shootout for pole.

Team Penske’s Newgarden trails in the championship by 48 points after taking the bonus point for pole, and with 53 points on offer and his rivals guaranteed to earn five points for starting the race.

Sep 23 : Palou on brink of title + Grosjean/driver market latest

After a string of poor qualifying performances, this is exactly what Newgarden needed even if he’s still a rank outsider.

Newgarden’s incredible late effort denied Helio Castroneves a pole in his sixth race of the year for Meyer Shank Racing, while Scott Dixon also jumped Castroneves to take second – while blaming Castroneves for impeding him and costing him pole.

Behind Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Felix Rosenqvist and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top six.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Grosjean clipped the wall and had to pit late, but still outqualified the pre-event favourite Andretti team which he’ll drive for next year.

Points leader and Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Palou entered qualifying knowing an 11th-place finish would secure him the title and a point for pole would make life difficult for his fellow title contenders, who both need to finish in the top two to have a chance of winning the title.

Palou didn’t get a clean lap on the soft tyre in practice at the venue he comes to for the first time, so it was a less than ideal for his preparation.

In the first group he almost crashed into the Turn 9 exit wall as the track falls away and sucks cars into its clutches, and then did hit the wall at Turn 4 later on in his banker lap on the harder tyre.

 Jgs 2021 Long Beach 261614 1

After making it through to the 12-car session, he and main rival Pato O’Ward struggled to get a strong banker lap in.

Then on Palou’s last run on the soft tyres he encountered Will Power stopped at Turn 10 and pitted knowing he wouldn’t improve under yellow.

A host of other cars seemingly did, and relegated Palou to 10th and O’Ward from sixth to eighth, but the drivers ahead were expected to be penalised.

Only Ed Jones was penalised though, relegating O’Ward from the Fast Six and infuriating driver and the Arrow McLaren SP team which says it has data that proves more drivers improved under yellows.

It was still a good result given O’Ward came a long way from the first practice when he had claimed his team needed to “yardsale” his car as he was so unhappy with it, and he also brushed the wall earlier in qualifying.

Power’s stoppage was his second drama of the session after he clipped the crashed car of Jack Harvey and did substantial damage at the end of his group session.

Helped by delays while stewards ruled on potential blocking cases, Penske did a remarkable job to repair Power’s car so he could take up his place in the top 12 session.

It was a nightmare session for the Andretti team that looked set to dominate the weekend with in-form street course star Colton Herta and the winner of the last two races here, Alexander Rossi.

Herta topped the two qualifying sessions and looked set for a third street course pole in five races, but his strategy was off.

Herta reckoned there was enough time in the group session to do four timed laps on the hards and two on the soft tyres, but he crashed into the wall at the exit of Turn 4 on the last lap on the hards, and therefore only had one run on the softs at the end and the damaged toe-link broke part-way through the lap.

He finished seventh with the time he’d set on the hards, meaning he starts 14th.

Not getting through does mean he has two sets of fresh soft tyres and he cautioned the opposition to expect a charge in the race.

Rossi came in as one of the favourites given his form at Long Beach, but he was only eighth quickest in the first group and starts Sunday’s race in 15th!

He has been quick in practice this weekend making his qualifying performance a surprise.

Ganassi’s Jimmie Johnson qualified 27th on his first visit to Long Beach where he visited as a teenager and is part of the reason he switched to IndyCar in the first place.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m08.508s 1m08.567s 1m08.224s
2 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.57s 1m08.311s 1m08.442s
3 Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.699s 1m08.556s 1m08.482s
4 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m08.664s 1m08.53s 1m08.651s
5 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m08.622s 1m08.629s 1m08.746s
6 Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.714s 1m08.177s 1m08.757s
7 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.843s 1m08.714s
8 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m08.771s 1m08.833s
9 Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.877s 1m08.879s
10 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.711s 1m08.946s
11 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.857s 1m09.133s
12 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m08.85s 1m09.227s
13 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m08.861s
14 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.109s
15 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m08.994s
16 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.381s
17 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.136s
18 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.436s
19 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m09.399s
20 Charlie Kimball A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.679s
21 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.581s
22 Sébastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.702s
23 Max Chilton Carlin Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.752s
24 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.76s
25 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.466s
26 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m09.914s
27 Jimmie Johnson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.512s
28 Oliver Askew Arrow McLaren SP, Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m10.017s
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