Grosjean takes commanding IndyCar pole for resurgent Andretti - The Race

Grosjean takes commanding IndyCar pole for resurgent Andretti

Mar 4 2023
By Jack Benyon

Romain Grosjean took his second IndyCar pole position as Andretti put three of its four cars in the fight for pole in St Petersburg, locking out the front row with Colton Herta in second.

Andretti Autosport had been one of the storylines coming into the season after a poor 2022 in which its wait for another IndyCar title ticked over to 10 years.

But from pre-season testing into practice in St Pete the team has put up strong times on any leaderboard and it was no different when it came to a competitive session.

Grosjean – who learned to fly in the off-season and landed his plane not far from the downtown St Petersburg circuit earlier in the week – was top of the leaderboard after the first group of flying laps, and despite Herta’s prowess on street courses and his win here in 2021, Grosjean was able to hold on to deliver a stunning 59.5532s lap.

Herta was second, a relatively large 0.4155s adrift, and Grosjean was attacked for a hug by his children in the pitlane as he gave an excited post-session interview.

Herta followed that by lamenting his lap – saying he was as useful as “gum on a boot heel”, delivered with a wry grin.

Behind Herta, Pato O’Ward was third in a session where Arrow McLaren put all three of its cars – up from two last year with Alexander Rossi joining – in the top 12 at an event where the whole team struggled last year and can certainly be happy with its 2023 performance.

O’Ward said his qualifying pace made him excited for the race.

Marcus Ericsson took fourth. Qualifying was a huge area of focus for the whole Ganassi team which put all four cars in the top 13. Ericsson was hamstrung by not having a fresh set of softs to use for the Fast Six, which his rivals had.

A new rule for this year means teams get an extra set of softs. Where the Fast Six was usually done on used tyres, teams now should be able to save a set for the pole fight.

Almost immediately in the Fast Six qualifying session Kyle Kirkwood crashed the third Andretti car at Turn 13, attacking the hairpin to start his lap. He locked up, got on the grass and smashed into the outside wall, destroying the front left of his car.

Immediately after, Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin lost his chance to repeat his 2022 pole position and left the Fast Six as a ‘fast four’ with only a quintet still running.

McLaughlin appeared to clip the wall at Turn 10 and tried to attack the remainder of the lap – the start finish line is at the entry to the final turn – to get a time on the board, but lost the rear at Turn 12 and spun through the grass to a halt at the entry to the hairpin, Turn 13.

With both drivers crashing, their Q2 times are taken so Kirkwood starts fifth ahead of McLaughlin despite crashing first.

Kirkwood almost didn’t even make it into the top 12 session when he was set to miss out before a red flag caused by Simon Pagenaud nudging the wall at Turn 4, which set up a one-lap shootout in the first qualifying group. Kirkwood thrived under the pressure to make it through.

Alex Palou was seventh in a really positive session for Ganassi alongside Ericsson’s progress and Scott Dixon was two spots back in ninth. Palou missed the Fast Six cut by 0.0095s!

It looked like Felix Rosenqvist would be Arrow McLaren’s top driver after his pace in the first qualifying segment but he missed out on graduating to the pole fight by 0.0285s.

How tight the battle to reach the top six was
6 McLaughlin 59.7686s
7 Palou +0.0095s
8 Rosenqvist +0.0285s
9 Dixon +0.0324s

Behind Dixon in ninth Will Power champion lamented a gust of wind and a less than perfect race car as he qualified 10th, ahead of Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Rossi, making his debut for Arrow McLaren.

Marcus Armstrong was the top rookie and will start 13th for Chip Ganassi Racing on his IndyCar debut.

He had been set to progress for a top 12 spot until a one-lap shootout set-up by Pagenaud causing the red flag earlier, and it was fellow Ganassi-Marcus, Ericsson, who nudged Armstrong out of a chance to progress.

Josef Newgarden was 14th as the only Penske driver not to make it out of his group amid myriad traffic issues.

Ex-tin-top racer Agustin Canapino – new to single-seaters – was only 0.7s off the best time in his group as he qualified 21st in a 27-car field for Juncos Hollinger.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 59.879s 59.732s 59.553s
2 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 59.822s 59.544s 59.968s
3 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.114s 59.736s 1m0.016s
4 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.201s 59.762s 1m0.443s
5 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.12s 59.768s
6 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.045s 59.635s
7 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.649s 59.778s
8 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 59.939s 59.797s
9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 59.939s 59.801s
10 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m01.337s 59.948s
11 Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.012s 59.961s
12 Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.783s 1m0.004s
13 Marcus Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.315s
14 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.333s
15 Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.504s
16 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.386s
17 Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.53s
18 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.394s
19 Jack Harvey Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.727s
20 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.483s
21 Agustín Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m01.069s
22 David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports Dallara DW12-Honda 1m0.55s
23 Sting Ray Robb Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m02.371s
24 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.863s
25 Simon Pagenaud Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 6m37.411s
26 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m0.707s
27 Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m01.868s

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