IMS IndyCar: Pole for O’Ward, Lundgaard stars in shockingly close fight

Pato O’Ward took his third IndyCar pole of the season in a fight that saw five drivers covered by 0.05sec – and one of those five was IndyCar debutant Christian Lundgaard.

IMS IndyCar: Pole for O’Ward, Lundgaard stars in shockingly close fight

Firestone Fast 12

On primary tires, Rinus VeeKay, IndyCar debutant Lundgaard and Will Power were fastest, before pitting for Firstone’s alternate tires. Times then tumbled on reds, with almost everyone’s fastest laps coming on their second flyers on the softer compound, and it was O’Ward – who so nearly spun at Turn 10 on his flyer – who emerged on top with 1min10.7147sec lap.

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Power, seeking his 63rd pole position, fell 0.0067sec short in an insanely tight session that saw the top five covered by half-a-tenth. There was initially some controversy, as the #12 Penske team told the stewards that O’Ward held up Power on his flyer, but the stewards reviewed the evidence and allowed the results to stand.

"I wanted to make sure this was a turning point,” said a relieved O’Ward to Peacock TV. “We've had a very tough last few, three races, and we're ready to get back into victory lane. This is the first step to that and tomorrow we have a job to finish. There's still five races to go. A lot can happen, but this is definitely on the right track…

"I've never been so excited to race here on the Indy road course. Since practice one I said we're going to get some good point this weekend."

The rookie who took pole and finished second here in May, Romain Grosjean, wound up third, just 0.0015sec ahead of massively impressive IndyCar debutant Christian Lundgaard, the 20-year-old Dane making his mark immediately for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda team.

Colton Herta was fastest of the Andretti Autosport-Honda drivers as usual, beating Alex Palou, fastest of the Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas.

Jack Harvey was a mildly disappointing seventh for Meyer Shank Racing-Honda at a track where he excels, while Conor Daly edged his Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet teammate Rinus VeeKay for ninth.

Q1 Group 2

Palou, O’Ward, Newgarden, Lundgaard, Ericsson, Rossi, Grosjean, Dixon, Hinchcliffe, Rosenqvist, Jones, Sato, Kellett, Johnson

Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi got landed top spot with the second sub-71sec lap of the session, but Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s debutant Christian Lundgaard was the star of the group, clocking second fastest time, just 0.0644sec slower, and ahead of points leader Alex Palou, the two Arrow McLaren SP-Chevys of Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward and May’s polesitter Romain Grosjean.

However, Rosenqvist was penalized when he drove pace unabated through a yellow flag section following a spin by Scott Dixon. Dixon was making a last desperate attempt to reach the top six, but his rotation meant he failed to graduate and lost his best lap.

Another surprise elimination was Josef Newgarden, who caught James Hinchcliffe at an inconvenient moment on his flyer, and is already consigned to a six-place grid penalty.

Marcus Ericsson benefited from Rosenqvist’s penalty to reach the top six.

In contrast to Dixon, his teammate Jimmie Johnson was hugely impressive in his failure to graduate, only 0.87sec off top spot, and less than half a second slower to the six-time IndyCar champion.

Q1 Group 1

Meyer Shank Racing-Honda’s Jack Harvey led Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta and Simon Pagenaud (Penske) on the harder Firestone primary tires, before everyone other than Herta ducked into the pits for a set of alternate tires.

Power was the only driver to duck under 71sec in this group, with a 1min 10.9988sec and the other drivers to advance to the Firestone Fast 12 were Harvey, a very impressive Conor Daly of Ed Carpenter Racing, Pagenaud, Herta on primaries, and VeeKay, who survived a brief off-course excursion.

The Dutch youngster edged Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport by 0.0876sec. Helio Castroneves was 0.65sec off Meyer Shank Racing teammate Harvey and only 12th, but ahead of RC Enerson in the Top Gun Racing-Chevy, as the team returns to action for the first time since its attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

 
shares
comments
IMS IndyCar: Palou leads, Lundgaard impresses in practice

Previous article

IMS IndyCar: Palou leads, Lundgaard impresses in practice

Next article

Lundgaard: Family will “have a heart attack” over grid position

Lundgaard: Family will “have a heart attack” over grid position
Load comments
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021