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Huge Upsets Define Exciting Qualifying Session: IndyCar Gallagher GP Qualifying Report

Written by Jake O’Callaghan, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Source: Autoweek

Qualifying for the IndyCar Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Road Course took place on Friday. This is part of IndyCar’s second run at this circuit configuration, first visiting the yard of bricks in May, as part of the build up to the Indy 500. The different track characteristics of visiting this track in summer rather than spring proved difficult for even the most experienced drivers.

Round 1

Group 1 of Round One provided quite a shocking result, when all the results were logged. After what has been a difficult season, Andretti’s Devlin DeFrancesco topped the session, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Jack Harvey just behind in second. Behind them, the three Arrow McLaren cars of O’Ward, Rossi, and Rosenqvist predictably made it through, after a strong morning practice session.

Finally, in an upset result, Scott McLaughlin was the only Team Penske driver to advance, his teammates Newgarden and Power both being bumped from qualifying, after struggling with the tough handling of their cars around the road course. Additionally, last week’s Nashville Grand Prix winner Kyle Kirkwood and his Andretti teammate Colton Herta would take no further part in qualifying.

Following the morning practice session, there was a lot of buzz around the Rahal team, as they appeared to show tremendous speed. Group 2 saw that speed confirmed. Christian Lundgaard topped the session, alongside his teammate Graham Rahal in second. This session continued the run of surprising results.

Behind the RLL team, it was Grosjean, soon-to-be-retiring Helio Castroneves, Palou, and Armstrong that made it through. However, among the drivers knocked out in this session was rookie sensation Linus Lundqvist for Meyer Shank Racing, six-time IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon, former Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson. Indy GP winner Rinus VeeKay was bumped after a mistake on his final lap. This round had big implications for the championship, with points leader Alex Palou advancing, whilst his closest rival Josef Newgarden failed to do so.

Credit: Mike Dinovo

Fast 12

This round began with colder temperatures, and the threat of rain looming overhead. Teams felt confident that it would hold out for this round, and waited until their second runs to fit the faster alternate tyres. Yet again, the RLLs were one-two with Lundgaard and Rahal. Alexander Rossi was third, and following an off on his first run, Romain Grosjean put his car into fourth in the round.

Behind them, Rossi’s teammate O’Ward made it into the final segment of qualifying in fifth, but perhaps most spectacularly, Canadian driver Devlin DeFrancesco finished sixth, and managed to squeeze his way into his first-ever Fast Six appearance. He finished eight ten-thousandths of a second ahead of Marcus Armstrong, who would not advance. Rahal’s team made the gamble of sending him out early to build tyre temperature, and that gamble eventually paid off. Shockingly, May’s winner at this track layout, and championship leader Alex Palou would not advance. His time was only good enough for ninth on the grid.

Source: AJ Foyt Racing

Fast 6

For the third round in a row, it was another RLL one-two at the end of the session. However, it was reversed from the previous rounds, with Graham Rahal snapping a six-year pole-less run, taking the top spot from his teammate Christian Lundgaard by one tenth of a second, the team bookmarking their best qualifying of the year. Rahal, on being interviewed at the end of the session, stated, “We’ve had to work ridiculously hard,” and that it “feels like a win” for his team. It was extra significant due to the fact that, three months ago, he was bumped from the Indy 500 after his team turned up with terribly slow cars in qualifying in May. He vindicated that failure with his fourth career pole position at the same track.

Behind the RLL cars on the second row were the Arrow McLaren drivers of Alexander Rossi and Pato O’Ward, followed by the two Andretti drivers of DeFrancesco and Grosjean. DeFrancesco would finish with a career-best qualifying position of fifth.

Gallagher Grand Prix Qualifying results:

  1. Graham Rahal

  2. Christian Lundgaard

  3. Alexander Rossi

  4. Pato O’Ward

  5. Devlin DeFrancesco

  6. Romain Grosjean

  7. Marcus Armstrong

  8. Jack Harvey

  9. Alex Palou

  10. Felix Rosenqvist

  11. Scott McLaughlin

  12. Helio Castroneves

  13. Colton Herta

  14. Linus Lundqvist

  15. Kyle Kirkwood

  16. Scott Dixon

  17. Will Power

  18. Marcus Ericsson

  19. Josef Newgarden

  20. Rinus VeeKay

  21. Santino Ferrucci

  22. Ryan Hunter-Reay

  23. David Malukas

  24. Agustin Canapino

  25. Sting Ray Robb

  26. Callum Ilott

  27. Benjamin Pedersen


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