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Palou claims pole for the Grand Prix of Monterey

Credits: Chris Black

The NTT IndyCar Series returns for its eighth round of the season, taking to the renowned WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca circuit.

News hasn't been scarce this week with the big announcement being Nolan Siegel joining Arrow McLaren for the remainder of the 2024 season, replacing Théo Pourchaire just weeks after being confirmed to race the No.6.

David Malukas makes his highly anticipated return back to the series with Meyer Shank Racing. After suffering from a wrist injury back in February, and being dropped from Arrow McLaren, the American will make his return this weekend with the No.66 car. This car was previously piloted by Tom Blomsqvist before the Briton was dropped after five rounds. Luca Ghiotta will be racing the No.51 for Dale Coyne Racing car for the second time.

With the news so far rounded up, how did the drivers fare around the iconic circuit and who claimed pole for Sunday's race?

Qualifying: as it happened

Credits: Joe Skibinski

Group one: McLaughlin, Power, Rossi, Malukas, Armstrong, Dixon, Grosjean, Rasmussen, Rahal, Ferrucci, Siegel, Robb, Canapinto

Group one headed out onto the track, Will Power put a 1:11.3515, the benchmark for the session, the time was quickly eclipsed by Scott Dixon who put a 1:09.6648.

Rossi put his final time on the board, a respectable 1:07.7175. Power was struggling and unable to find any extra speed around the circuit, only mustering up a 1:08.0178 landing just outside the advancing six - a disappointing showing for the Australian.

Grosjean crossed the line with a 1:07.6813, securing his spot into the Fast 12. Siegel was unable to advance in his first qualifying with Arrow McLaren, the 19-year-old will be starting 23rd.

Malukas silences those who doubted him and advances into the Fast 12 with a 1:07.8255, his first qualifying session since September 2023.

A shocking exit from Will Power saw the Road America winner not advance into the Fast 12, the Australian will instead be starting from back in 15th. A disappointing outing for the Penske driver, who will be looking for redemption in tomorrow’s race.

Armstrong, Rossi, Malukas, Dixon, Grosjean and McLaughlin all advance through to the Fast 12.

Group two: Herta, Palou, O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Kirkwood, Ericsson, Lundgaard, Simpson, Lundqvist, Newgarden, Harvey, Fittipaldi, VeeKay, Ghiotto

Credits: Joe Skibinski

Group two was next to head out and what a strong group it was. Newgarden was first to put a time on the board with a 1:12.7693, which was quickly overshadowed by Palou who entered the 1:11’s.

Herta put out an incredible lap of 1:08.7010, shooting to the top of the standings. Kirkwood wasn’t far behind his teammate, slotting into second with a 1:08.9310.

Arrow Mclaren were having a stellar qualifying session with O’Ward jumping ahead of the two Andretti Globals. Whilst his teammates were battling it out at the front, Ericsson was outside the top six, not putting any contending times on the board

With two minutes remaining Newgarden slipped to the bottom of the group, with his current time almost a tenth and a half slower than sixth position. Lundgaard put in an incredible lap, bumping Newgarden out of the advancing six.

The American had no time to retaliate narrowly missing out by just a tenth of a second, joining his teammate in not advancing - a shocking outcome for Team Penske.

Palou, Herta, Kirkwood, O’Ward’ Rosenqvist and Lungaard all advance through to the Fast 12.

Fast 12

Kirkwood was the first to put a time on the board, setting the benchmark for the timed session with a 1:11.1081. The time was quickly eclipsed by Palou who entered into the 1.10’s.

With three minutes left on the clock, the drivers were pushing to the max to enter into the Fast 6. Herta was once again at the top of the sheets with a 1:08.1069, Palou was sticking close to the Andretti Global car.

Grosjean was bettering his time every lap, this time taking the top of the sheets with a 1:07.5116, an incredible lap from the Frenchman set in the final minutes.

With the seconds ticking down, the drivers put in their final flying laps. Palou shot to the top of the sheets with a 1:07.2572, Kirkwood slotted in just behind. Alongside the pair advancing were Rossi, Lundgaard, Rosenqvist and Herta.

The shock exit came from Dixon who couldn’t escape the drop zone, O’Ward joined the Kiwi alongside Malukas, McLaughlin, Armstrong and Grosjean.

Fast 6

Credits: Joe Skibinski

The final stage of qualifying took place with the six fastest drivers of the day battling it out for pole position. Kirkwood put an amicable time on the board with a 1:07.7047.

Lundgaard slotted in behind the Andretti Global driver, just 0.002s off Kirkwood's time. Palou was flying around the circuit, topping the timing sheets with a 1:07.1465. With the final flying laps taking place, Palou was already bettering his time, provisionally taking pole for the race.

Rossi was on his final lap, however, his time wasn't enough to fight the Spaniard for pole, slotting into fifth. Despite his speed all session, Herta was unable to convert his time into a pole-contending time. An incredible session from the Chip Ganassi racer, see's Palou claim his fifth career pole position.

Alex Palou will start on pole for the Grand Prix of Monterey, could he continue his strong performance in the race and grab his first victory of the season?

The classification

1 - Alex Palou

2 - Kyle Kirkwood

3 - Felix Rosenqvist

4 - Colton Herta

5 - Alexander Rossi

6 - Christian Lundgaard

7 - Scott McLaughlin

8 - Romain Grosjean

9 - Pato O'Ward

10- Scott Dixon

11- Marcus Armstrong

12- David Malukas

13- Agustin Canapinto

14- Josef Newgarden

15- Will Power

16- Linus Lundqvist

17- Santino Ferrucci

18- Marcus Ericsson

19- Graham Rahal

20- Rinus VeeKay

21- Christian Rasmussen

22- Kyffin Simpson

23- Nolan Siegel

24- Pietro Fittpaldi

25- Sting Ray Robb

26- Jack Harvey

27-Luca Ghiotto


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