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Herta Tops in Detroit - IndyCar Detroit GP Qualifying Report

Written by Jake O’Callaghan

The IndyCar Series took to the streets of downtown Detroit for qualifying. Track position is important at this track as there can be chaos on starts and restarts. The further up in the field you start, the less a chance you have of being caught up in a crash.

Round 1

Group 1

Théo Pourchaire stunned in just his fourth IndyCar qualifying session, the French rookie topped the first group by almost a tenth of a second. Even more impressive given the fact that he had a hard crash in the Saturday morning practice session. He finished ahead of the Team Penske duo of McLaughlin in second and Newgarden in third. Kyle Kirkwood was fourth, with Power fifth and Ferrucci sixth. 

There was, however, a hold after this group as IndyCar stewards reviewed multiple alleged incidents of qualifying interference (impeding). Alexander Rossi alleged that Grosjean impeded him on one of his fast laps. Grosjean alleged that Ferrucci impeded him, furiously climbing out of his car and marching down to Ferrucci’s pit box, expressing his frustrations with the A.J. Foyt Racing Team Principal Larry Foyt. “They need to do a better job of not blocking people and crashing into people,” “if that’s not blocking I don’t know what is,” expressed the Juncos driver. NBC claimed that he said to Foyt: “next time I’m going to put your driver in the wall.” There resulted no penalties from these investigations. 

Many of the drivers struggled with oversteer through the Turns 6-7 chicane, Newgarden and Simpson had minor incidents whilst Grosjean had a major slide that ruined his final lap and eliminated him from qualifying. The other drivers eliminated were Rasmussen, Rossi, VeeKay, Lundqvist, Simpson, and Vautier. 

Group 2

There were more issues with traffic in group two. Pato O’Ward particularly complained about it: “I keep getting held up, man,” complained the Mexican driver. Alex Palou topped the session, almost three tenths faster than Pourchaire’s fastest lap in group one. Christian Lundgaard was second, with the Andretti duo of Herta and Ericsson in third and fourth respectively. Despite his issues with traffic, O’Ward transferred in fifth. Scott Dixon grazed the wall early in the session, but he was not fazed and finished sixth. 

Graham Rahal just missed out in seventh. Rahal and Honda compatriot Kyffin Simpson both face grid penalties tomorrow after unapproved engine changes. Felix Rosenqvist was upset after the session, struggling with both traffic and car performance. “We’re driving our asses off, but we’re a second off the pace,” said the Swede. At the end of the session, he locked his front left tyre and went down the runoff at Turn 8, stalling his car and bringing out local yellow flags. As a result, he lost his fastest lap and sealed his fate of elimination. The other eliminations in this group were Fittipaldi, Canapino, Armstrong, Robb, Castroneves, and Harvey.

Fast 12

Pato O’Ward brought out the red flags with just under four minutes to go in the session, he tried to get out of the way of Kirkwood on a fast lap behind, going too deep into the corner and stalling the car. He complained to the team for sending him out in traffic, his engineer explaining that they had no choice in sending him out because he had a brake fire in the pits and had to get the car moving to put it out. Due to bringing out the red, he was not allowed to advance to the Fast 6.

It was a big session for Andretti in the Fast 12, finishing 1-2 with Herta and Kirkwood respectively. Scott Dixon finished third, with McLaughlin, Palou, and Newgarden the other drivers to transfer to the Fast 6.

After O’Ward’s elimination due to the red flag, all of Arrow McLaren’s hopes rested on the young Théo Pourchaire. Unfortunately, he narrowly missed out, finishing seventh. Will Power was furious with his elimination, screaming profanities in the pits after finishing eighth. Ericsson was ninth, with Ferrucci, Lundgaard, and O’Ward completing the list of drivers that failed to advance.

Fast 6

It was a straight fight between the three duos from Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Andretti Global for pole in the Fast 6. The red flags came out with 43 seconds to go after Kyle Kirkwood went down the runoff area in Turn 1 and stalled the car. It was Colton Herta that sat on top before the final runs. IndyCar allowed the drivers to complete one more lap each after the red flag period. Ultimately, however, no driver was able to improve on their previous time. Colton Herta claimed pole for Andretti Global. Last year’s polesitter in Detroit, Alex Palou, will start in second. The two Team Penske cars of Newgarden and McLaughlin will start third and fourth respectively. Scott Dixon will start fifth and Kirkwood, after bringing out the red flags and losing his fastest laps, will start sixth.

Herta wanted to redeem himself after his crash and subsequent retirement at last week’s Indy 500. “To come back for some redemption, it feels good,” “this qualifying session is so difficult, it’s so hard to get a clean lap with all the bumps here," said the California native.

2024 Grand Prix of Detroit Qualifying Order

  1. Colton Herta

  2. Alex Palou

  3. Josef Newgarden

  4. Scott McLaughlin

  5. Scott Dixon

  6. Kyle Kirkwood

  7. Théo Pourchaire

  8. Will Power

  9. Marcus Ericsson

  10. Santino Ferrucci

  11. Christian Lundgaard

  12. Pato O'Ward

  13. Christian Rasmussen

  14. Graham Rahal

  15. Romain Grosjean

  16. Pietro Fittipaldi

  17. Alexander Rossi

  18. Agustin Canapino

  19. Rinus VeeKay

  20. Marcus Armstrong

  21. Linus Lundqvist

  22. Felix Rosenqvist

  23. Kyffin Simpson

  24. Sting Ray Robb

  25. Tristan Vautier

  26. Helio Castroneves

  27. Jack Harvey


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