Portland IndyCar: Palou takes maiden pole as Team Penske struggles

Alex Palou beat Alexander Rossi to score his first-ever IndyCar pole position at Portland, as all four Penske drivers failed to progress out of Q1 in a disastrous qualifying.

Portland IndyCar: Palou takes maiden pole as Team Penske struggles

In the fast six pole position shootout, Chip Ganassi Racing's Palou laid down a 58.770s lap around the 1.964-mile Portland track to beat Rossi's Andretti Autosport machine by a mere 0.087s to claim his first pole as an IndyCar driver.

Palou’s six-time IndyCar championship-winning team-mate Scott Dixon was a mere 0.01s further adrift in third, having earlier progressed through Q2 just 0.05s off timesheet-topper Palou.

Dixon’s former team-mate, Felix Rosenqvist, claimed fourth place for Arrow McLaren SP as the fastest of the Chevrolet runners.

Graham Rahal achieved his best qualifying result of the season with fifth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, as 2019 Portland polesitter Colton Herta's gamble to try and take pole using the harder compound primary tyres fell short, leaving the Andretti driver down in sixth.

In the Q2 session to decide the top six contenders, Palou headed Dixon, while Rahal usurped Herta at the last minute to grab third.

Rosenqvist pipped his championship-leading team-mate Pato O’Ward to the final Q2 spot by 0.005s, meaning the Mexican will start from seventh place. With his main title rival Palou taking pole, O’Ward’s slender points lead has been trimmed to nine points ahead of Sunday’s race.

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

Ed Jones (Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan) was eighth, just ahead of impressive series returnee Oliver Askew in the second RLL entry - the 2019 Indy Lights champion driving for his third different team this season after previous cameos at Arrow-McLaren and Ed Carpenter Racing.

Marcus Ericsson was 10th for Ganassi, ahead of Max Chilton’s Carlin entry and Sebastien Bourdais in the AJ Foyt Racing car.

In both Q1 sessions the biggest dropouts were the Team Penske drivers, with Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud all eliminated in the Group 2 running.

Power will start 14th, Newgarden 18th and Pagenaud 24th. 

Takuma Sato (RLL) and Rinus VeeKay (ECR) also failed to make it through in Group 2, but both will receive six-place grid penalties for early engine changes.

In the first Q1 group, the on-form Romain Grosjean missed out for Dale Coyne Racing, as did James Hinchcliffe (Andretti) and the final Penske runner Scott McLaughlin.

However, McLaughlin felt he had been impeded by Grosjean on his way to the session's ninth-fastest time, and race control duly agreed - which resulted in the deletion of the Frenchman’s best time. As a result, Grosjean will start 21st. 

Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, second fastest in practice for Meyer Shank Racing, could not reproduce that pace and also dropped out in Q1, ending up less than a tenth ahead of IndyCar debutant Callum Ilott in the Juncos Hollinger car.

The Ferrari Formula 1 test driver was only 0.69s off Ericsson’s pacesetting time in the session, but will start 19th.

Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay didn’t even turn a lap due to an unspecified mechanical issue that has prompted the squad to change his engine.

IndyCar Portland - Qualifying Results

Fast Six

Q2

Q1 Group 2

Q1 Group 1

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