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Qualifying report
IndyCar Detroit

IndyCar Detroit: Palou takes pole, Andretti cars hit the wall

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou will start from pole position for the first IndyCar race on the streets of downtown Detroit since 1991.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Having raced on nearby Belle Isle Island from 1992, Penske Entertainment Corp revived the downtown circuit for the IndyCar event with a short and sharp 1.7-mile, nine-turn layout in the shadow of the General Motors Renaissance Center.

Following up his Indianapolis 500 pole, Palou set the early pace in the Fast Six shootout with 1m03.7423s but was soon toppled by Team Penske’s Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden and then his team-mate Scott McLaughlin with 1m02.4743s.

On his second run, Palou snatched P1 back with 1m01.8592s, with first Romain Grosjean (Andretti Autosport) and then McLaughlin grabbing P2 with 1m02.1592s, which was three tenths off pole.

Behind Grosjean, who brushed the wall off Turn 2 but continued, Scott Dixon will start fourth for Ganassi, ahead of Newgarden and Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi).

Ericsson overshot Turn 8 early on and was almost collected by Grosjean as he spun around to extricate himself from the runoff.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

Fast 12 qualifying

In the second round of qualifying, Palou set the pace with 1m01.6390s from Grosjean, Ericsson, Newgarden, McLaughlin and Dixon.

Failing to progress were Team Penske’s Will Power, Simon Pagenaud (Meyer Shank Racing), Felix Rosenqvist (Arrow McLaren) and team-mate Pato O’Ward, and rookie Marcus Armstrong (Ganassi).

Long Beach GP winner Kyle Kirkwood, who topped his qualifying group, ripped the left-front corner of his Andretti Autosport car off on the inside of Turn 7. He will start 12th.

“I’m disappointed, that was a pole-winning car, no doubt,” he said. “I touched that wall way harder in practice, it was just the angle I hit. It’s just awful, my mistake.”

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

Group stage qualifying

In Group 1, Armstrong set the pace with 1m01.8688s, three-tenths clear of Grosjean, Palou, Power, Pagenaud and Rosenqvist.

Alexander Rossi was pushed out by McLaren team-mate Rosenqvist in the final seconds by 0.03s to consign him to 13th, failing to progress along with Conor Daly, who spun his Ed Carpenter Racing car, and Devlin DeFrancesco, whose Andretti team did a great job to rebuild his car after a big practice crash this morning.

AJ Foyt Racing’s Benjamin Pedersen will start 19th, having beaten David Malukas (Dale Coyne Racing), Helio Castroneves – who spun his MSR entry exiting Turn 2 – and Jack Harvey (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing).

In Group 2, Kirkwood set the pace, remarkably on primary tyres, at 1m01.5305s ahead of McLaughlin, O’Ward, Dixon, Ericsson and Newgarden.

Rinus VeeKay (ECR) was pushed out by 0.001s and will start 14th, ahead of Callum Ilott (Juncos Hollinger Racing), Christian Lundgaard – who smashed the front-left corner of his RLL car also at Turn 7 – Agustin Canapino (JHR) and Santino Ferrucci (AJ Foyt Racing).

Colton Herta spanked the Turn 7 wall on his initial primary-tyred run, breaking his suspension, and he will start down in 24th, only outpacing Sting Ray Robb (Coyne) and Graham Rahal (RLL).

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