Watkins Glen IndyCar: Alexander Rossi scores first IndyCar pole

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Watkins Glen IndyCar: Alexander Rossi scores first IndyCar pole
David Malsher
By: David Malsher
Sep 2, 2017, 8:14 PM

Alexander Rossi edged aside the championship contenders at Watkins Glen to score his first-ever pole position in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

On the weekend he was confirmed to return to the Andretti Autosport-Honda team for at least two more years, the 2016 Indy 500 winner set a 1min22.4639sec lap to eclipse Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s Scott Dixon and Team Penske-Chevrolet’s championship leader Josef Newgarden.

Dixon, a four-time winner at this 3.377-mile road course, and the defending polesitter, was 0.0529sec shy of a pole repeat, and a mere 0.0001sec faster than Newgarden, who he trails by 31 points in the championship battle.

Dixon was frustrated, believing he had “three or four tenths” but with all Firestone Fast Six runners using black tires, he let his tires cool too much as he encountered a cruising Helio Castroneves (Penske-Chevrolet).

Takuma Sato was fourth, barely more than one-tenth slower than teammate Rossi, while Charlie Kimball had his best road/streetcourse qualifying session of the year, putting the #83 Ganassi car into fifth, half a second faster than Castroneves.

Ryan Hunter-Reay made it three Andretti cars in the top seven, as the 2012 champion edged the 2014 champion Will Power, who found his car too loose.

Dale Coyne Racing-Honda’s Sebastien Bourdais tried to make it into the Firestone Fast Six on the hard compound black tires, but wound up ninth, ahead of Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda).

AJ Foyt Racing-Chevy’s Carlos Munoz outqualified defending champion, Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who was 0.32sec from making it into the Fast Six. The Frenchman, who’s still well in the championship hunt, was perplexed and described his laps as “on the limit, but the time just wasn’t there.”

Munoz finished Q1 just 0.0067sec ahead of teammate Conor Daly, but that was enough to see the Colombian through to Q2, and consign Daly to 14th on the grid, alongside Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevy’s Spencer Pigot.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Hondas were not quick, but Jack Harvey – whose only previous IndyCar start was with Andretti Autosport at the Indianapolis 500 – did well to qualify 0.45sec and two places behind teammate and series veteran James Hinchcliffe.

Tony Kanaan and Max Chilton, each expected to depart Ganassi at the end of the season, struggled and will start their penultimate race for Chip in 17th and 19th respectively.

 

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