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Lundqvist takes maiden pole after big Newgarden crash - IndyCar Road America Qualifying Report

Written by Archie O’Reilly

Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Linus Lundqvist has taken the first pole of his NTT IndyCar Series career in a session that ended with a large crash at ‘The Kink’ for Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, from which he emerged unharmed.

Lundqvist will start ahead of Andretti Global’s Colton Herta and teammate Marcus Armstrong, who achieved a career-best qualifying finish of third. Here is how qualifying unfolded at Road America...

Round 1 - Group 1

Cars rolled out for the opening segment of qualifying on wet tyres, with rain continuing to fall through the afternoon following on from a very wet practice session topped by Herta earlier in the day. Wet sessions have proven a rarity in recent years, adding to the challenge for drivers - many unaccustomed to driving Indy cars in the wet.

Alexander Rossi topped the initial session for Arrow McLaren by almost three-tenths of a second, making the Fast 12 for only the second time on a road or street course this season. His teammate Pato O’Ward transferred in second place.

Armstrong made his fifth Fast 12 in six races on road and street course events this season, with his Ganassi teammate Kyffin Simpson impressively transferring for the first time in his IndyCar career after sitting bottom in the closing stages. 

Penske duo Newgarden, who jumped from seventh to third late on after switching to fresh wet tyres, and Will Power also safely made it through to the second segment. 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL)’s Christian Lundgaard was the first driver to miss out on the Fast 12, finishing seventh in the opening group after running off-track. Andretti’s Marcus Ericsson was eighth following his first podium for the team last time out in Detroit. 

Rinus VeeKay was ninth in the group for Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) and AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci one back, unable to build on a third-place finish in Friday’s dry practice session. On his debut for Juncos Hollinger Racing, last-minute Agustin Canapino replacement and Indy NXT sophomore Nolan Siegel put cars behind him and will start 21st.

Luca Ghiotto was one driver to find himself run outside the confines of the race track, finding his No.51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda coated with mud that had built on the grassy off-track at ‘America’s National Park of Speed’. He will start in 23rd, with Pietro Fittipaldi having to settle for 25th and last in the group for RLL on his first Road America visit.

Round 1 - Group 2

The track remained damp for the second group of the opening segment, with some showers still persisting through the session. 

The first red flag of qualifying flew for Helio Castroneves, piloting the No.66 Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) Honda before David Malukas takes the helm, stalled after going deep into the Turn 5 runoff. This means he will start last after losing his two best times and not being allowed to advance to the next segment.

With less than three minutes on the clock as cars emerged back on track after it went green again, there was a frenetic battle off pit lane as drivers vied to be first in line to get their final attempt in. Herta, sitting third at the time, led the way for Andretti and transferred in top spot by two-tenths ahead of Ganassi’s Alex Palou, who he shared the front row with in Detroit.

Scott McLaughlin made it a sweep of Penske drivers in the Fast 12 again in a rare wet weather open-wheel outing from across his career. Kyle Kirkwood was fourth for Andretti.

One of the stories of qualifying was Ganassi, who saw all five of their cars in the Fast 12 for the first time as Scott Dixon transferred from the second group along with Lundqvist. Joining rookie teammate Simpson, it was Lundqvist’s first Fast 12 appearance for Ganassi.

Romain Grosjean was the first driver on the outside edge for Juncos, with ECR’s Christian Rasmussen following him in the order. Arrow McLaren’s Theo Pourchaire was one place further back amid tyre temperature issues after feeling his car was Fast Six-worthy. Jack Harvey was 10th in the group in a solid effort for Coyne in his No.18 Honda.

Felix Rosenqvist, who had not qualified outside the top 10 heading into Detroit, will start outside the top 20 for the second time in as many races after having to recover from 21st into the top 10 last weekend. He had a similar moment to MSR teammate Castroneves by going deep in Turn 5 and will have to start 22nd.

Filling the MSR sandwich at the rear of the opening group was Graham Rahal for RLL - after two off-track excursions on his best run - and Sting Ray Robb for Foyt.

Fast 12

Rain subsided somewhat into the Fast 12 session, allowing a dry line to start to appear. It was a session contested by all five Ganassi cars, all three Penske cars and two from both Andretti and Arrow McLaren.

Despite losing time at Canada Corner, Herta led the way again by over three-tenths of a second with a first sub-two-minute lap. Kirkwood was one of five to duck beneath the two-minute mark to tuck in behind his teammate as Armstrong made his second career Fast Six appearance off the back of his first podium last time out.

Armstrong was one of two Ganassi cars to make the Fast Six, with rookie Lundqvist the other as both multi-time champions on the team, Palou and Dixon, who will start seventh and 10th, exited at the Fast 12 stage. Simpson, who took Indy NXT pole at Road America last year, will start a career-best 12th.

Also transferring from the Fast 12 was Power and Newgarden for Penske, with McLaughlin eighth to ensure three Penske cars start inside the top eight for the third race in succession. McLaughlin was content given his vast inexperience in damp conditions in open-wheel cars.

Neither Arrow McLaren car featuring in the second round managed to progress to the pole shootout, with Rossi ninth and O’Ward 11th after being one of many drivers to suffer an off-track moment through the Fast 12 session. Arrow McLaren have typically had better race cars across the 2024 season.

Fast Six

After a dry line appeared through the Fast 12 session, cars emerged on track for the Fast Six with alternate slick tyres mounted for the first time on qualifying day. This was vindicated after the first round of timed laps saw the quickest laps of the day.

It was not easy-going though. Power caused only the second red flag of qualifying with a spin and stall at Canada Corner - one of the most damp locations left on track. A total of only two red flags is impressive given the tricky nature of the conditions, with two of the most experienced drivers the culprits after inconsequential errors damage-wise.

Track evolution was sizable heading into the closing moments. Sub-two-minute laps were impressive in the Fast 12 session but there was evolution of almost 15 seconds beyond that through the final Fast Six laps. 

The end of the session was curtailed as Newgarden suffered one of the biggest crashes of his career on his final lap. He made heavy contact with the excellently-placed Turn 2 - known as ‘The Kink’ - SAFER barrier and was sent momentarily airborne after losing the car very early and spinning from full throttle after sliding over a kerb.

Lundqvist, who had not qualified any higher than 17th for Ganassi and a best of 11th for MSR in his three-race stint last season, was top at the time and took his first IndyCar pole position. Herta was second and will start on the front row for the second successive race.

Lundqvist’s teammate Armstrong achieved a career-best qualifying result of third, followed by Kirkwood in fourth. Power and Newgarden will start fifth and sixth - owing to their Fast 12 times - after bringing out red flags in the Fast Six; it will have to be evaluated whether Newgarden’s No.2 Chevy requires a chassis replacement.


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