Mikhail Aleshin proved that his practice pace earlier in the day was not just a flash in the pan as the Russian driver secured his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series pole position at the Pocono Raceway.
Aleshin’s two-lap time of 1:21.6530, an average speed of 220.445 mph around the Tricky Triangle, was enough to give Schmidt Peterson Motorsport their second pole spot of the season after James Hinchcliffe started the Indianapolis 500 from the front of the field, although the Canadian could only manage sixth this time around.
Joining Aleshin on the front row will be Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden, who continues to show he is a genuine challenge on all types of racetrack this season, although the young American was 0.0926 seconds shy of top spot.
Takuma Sato put in an excellent display to clinch third place on the grid for AJ Foyt Racing, ahead of the leading Team Penske of veteran Brazilian Helio Castroneves, while the leading Andretti Autosport entrant was Carlos Munoz in fifth.
Behind Hinchcliffe was Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who seems to have taken to the Pocono circuit well this weekend in his Andretti Herta Autosport entry, with the American finishing just ahead of Penske’s Will Power, while Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter completed the top ten.
It was a difficult session for championship leader Simon Pagenaud, who could only manage fourteenth on the grid, just ahead of Penske team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who was able to qualify despite crashing during practice earlier in the day.
Another one of those to crash in free practice was Charlie Kimball, and he was also able to take to the track for his qualifying run, ending sixteenth fastest, but the final driver of the trio who found the wall, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was unable to take part and as such will start at the back of the field.
It was also a disappointing session of Scott Dixon, who could only manage a lowly nineteenth for Chip Ganassi Racing after struggling with the balance of his car throughout his two-lap run.
Pocono Raceway Qualifying Result
|1||7||Mikhail Aleshin||RUS||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||1:21.6530|
|2||21||Josef Newgarden||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||1:21.7456|
|3||14||Takuma Sato||JAP||AJ Foyt Enterprises||1:21.7931|
|4||3||Helio Castroneves||BRZ||Team Penske||1:21.8997|
|5||26||Carlos Munoz||COL||Andretti Autosport||1:21.9498|
|6||5||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||1:22.0185|
|7||98||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||1:22.0696|
|8||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||1:22.3359|
|9||10||Tony Kanaan||BRZ||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:22.3399|
|10||20||Ed Carpenter||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||1:22.4086|
|11||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||1:22.4917|
|12||41||Jack Hawksworth||GBR||AJ Foyt Enterprises||1:22.5495|
|13||27||Marco Andretti||USA||Andretti Autosport||1:22.5643|
|14||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||1:22.6745|
|15||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||COL||Team Penske||1:22.8407|
|16||83||Charlie Kimball||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:22.9811|
|17||8||Max Chilton||GBR||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:23.0682|
|18||11||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||KVSH Racing||1:23.2320|
|19||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||1:23.5900|
|20||88||Conor Daly||USA||Dale Coyne Racing||1:23.8158|
|21||19||Pippa Mann||GBR||Dale Coyne Racing||1:25.2001|
|22||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||No Time|