Championship leader Alex Palou took a second IndyCar pole in a row with a stunning lap on the new Detroit street circuit.
The session was filled with mistakes and drivers struggling to extract the maximum out of their cars on the narrow and slippy new street circuit.
Perhaps the biggest casualty of the lot was the last IndyCar street course pole winner Kyle Kirkwood, who won that Long Beach race from the top spot for Andretti Autosport.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) June 3, 2023
Despite looking like a threat for the pole all weekend, he clipped the inside of the wall at Turn 6 in IndyCar’s equivalent of Q2, the top 12 shootout. “That was a pole winning car, no doubt”, he told NBC TV.
His Andretti Autosport team-mate Colton Herta – almost always a threat for pole and wins on street courses – had made the same error in Q1 and starts 24th.
Double contact for @ColtonHerta.
The No. 26 slaps the wall in qualifying.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) June 3, 2023
With some significant drivers not making the top six, Palou appeared to have fresher soft tyres – although all drivers on the softs were used sets – and stormed to the top with just over a minute to go with a 1m01.8592s.
It’s his first street course pole position and means he has a pole on all types of IndyCar track. Ganassi has three cars in the top six, while Honda also has a clean sweep of street course poles this season with this result in rival GM’s backyard.
Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin was pushing hard but could only jump to within three tenths of a second of Palou with his final effort.
He shook his fist in frustration because he wanted to win the pole for Roger Penske who has helped orchestrate the track’s move from Belle Isle to downtown.
Romain Grosjean jumped up to third late on despite brushing the wall at Turn 2, and gives Andretti something to celebrate after its tough weekend so far.
Scott Dixon went off strategy and tried fresh hard tyres over the used softs, which didn’t pay off, but he still jumped a spot to fourth late on.
Dixon’s qualifying form has been poor in recent years but his improvement continues spectacularly as his average 2023 start is 5.71 and he’s not been outside the top nine yet.
He also has the most wins of anyone in the field – five – on new tracks on the calendar.
Behind Dixon, Penske’s Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden pitted before the chequered flag while in third stating “this is all I got” on the radio as he came to a stop. But fifth, where he ended up after late improvements, is still a good spot to be in for the driver.
It’s Newgarden’s first Fast Six appearance since Nashville last August having missed the last six opportunities, and this year especially he’s been below his usual high standard in terms of his average starting position. Today will help correct that.
His team-mate Will Power was the first car bumped out of the battle for the top six, after backing off of a lap when he thought he didn’t have enough fuel, and will start seventh.
Simon Pagenaud finally gave Meyer Shank Racing something to celebrate after a tough year, grabbing his best qualifying of 2023 in eighth, ahead of Arrow McLaren duo Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward.
Rosenqvist felt he had let his team down and should have gone better, whereas O’Ward – not making the top six for the first time this season – didn’t think there was enough time in the car to improve significantly.
Rookie Marcus Armstrong delivered the fastest lap in the first group of qualifying but had two messy laps in the top 12 so he’ll start 11th for Ganassi, ahead of Kirkwood.
Rinus VeeKay missed out on pole at the Indy 500 by 0.004s two weeks ago, and he missed Q2 here in Detroit by 0.0011s, bumped out by a late Ericsson flier.
He’ll start 14th, with Alexander Rossi bumped out by 0.0373s in the first group of Q1 taking the 13th spot.
Agustin Canapino – who crashed at Turn 6 in practice one – was the second best rookie in 20th for Juncos Hollinger, his best qualifying on a road and street course this year in his first season in an open wheel car.
|1||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m02.243s||1m01.639s||1m01.859s|
|2||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m01.748s||1m01.979s||1m02.159s|
|3||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m02.176s||1m01.902s||1m02.29s|
|4||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m02.06s||1m02.061s||1m02.427s|
|5||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.19s||1m01.968s||1m02.522s|
|6||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m02.075s||1m01.945s||1m02.618s|
|7||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.345s||1m02.182s|
|8||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m02.395s||1m02.186s|
|9||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.534s||1m02.194s|
|10||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.047s||1m02.256s|
|11||Marcus Armstrong||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m01.856s||1m02.296s|
|12||Kyle Kirkwood||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m01.531s||1m04.608s|
|13||Alexander Rossi||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.571s|
|14||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.191s|
|15||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.952s|
|16||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.264s|
|17||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m03.002s|
|18||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m02.65s|
|19||Benjamin Pedersen||AJ Foyt Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m03.16s|
|20||Agustín Canapino||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.907s|
|21||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m03.213s|
|22||Santino Ferrucci||AJ Foyt Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m02.959s|
|23||Hélio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m03.388s|
|24||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m03.417s|
|25||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m03.773s|
|26||Sting Ray Robb||Dale Coyne Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m03.75s|
|27||Graham Rahal||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m03.866s|