Fresh off of taking victory in yesterday’s first race of the 2019 Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader, Team Penske‘s Josef Newgarden has secured pole position for the second race of the weekend that will take place later today. Newgarden will start alongside Alexander Rossi in this afternoon’s race, with the pair set to re-engage in battle after fighting for the win yesterday.
As was the case in yesterday’s qualifying for the first race, the twenty-two car field was split in two, with each group heading out for a single twelve-minute session. Pole position would go to whichever of the group’s leaders were faster than the other, with the rest of the field lining up on the side of the grid behind their session’s leader.
For today, the groups from yesterday remained the same but went out in a reversed order. After the first group was run, yesterday’s pole-sitter, Alexander Rossi, was fastest with a 1:15.1825 lap-time. However, the second group of qualifiers would have the advantage due to the ever-evolving racing surface following yesterday’s rain in Detroit.
The gap between the sessions was extended to almost an hour after a large quantity of water leaked out of the tyre-barriers at turn six. Thankfully, track workers were able to dry all the water away, allowing the second group to compete for pole position.
With the water cleared and the track continuing to evolve, it was almost inevitable that pole position would be determined in the second group. That theory came to pass in the closing moments when yesterday’s race-winner Newgarden laid down a superb lap-time of 1:14.8607 to take pole position away from Rossi.
For Newgarden, the result continues a superb weekend. With overtaking being notoriously difficult at Belle Isle, Newgarden has ever chance to sweep the weekend in this Afternoon’s race. However, second-placed Rossi will certainly be a force to be reckoned with, as the Andretti Autosport driver has arguably had the best pace of anyone throughout the weekend so far.
With the second group’s best lap-time faster than the first group’s, the second group competitors would all line-up in the odd-numbered positions on the grid, with the first group lining up in the even-numbered positions. This will put Andretti’s Zach Veach in a superb third-place on the grid, his best qualifying position in the NTT IndyCar Series to-date. He will be looking to make the best of a fantastic grid position after a tough sophomore season so far.
Starting alongside Veach on the second row of the grid will be Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s, Colton Herta. Behind him, on the third row, will be Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s James Hinchcliffe in fifth place, with the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist evenly matched yet again after qualifying in sixth and seventh respectively. Dixon, in particular, will be hungry to advance towards the podium after uncharacteristically wrecking out of yesterday’s race.
Carlin‘s Patricio O’Ward qualified in the top ten for the second day in a row. He will start in eighth place and will be hoping not to sustain damage on lap one as he did yesterday. Sebastien Bourdais and Spencer Pigot claimed the final two positions inside the top ten of the grid.
It was another disappointing qualifying session for Penske’s Will Power. A mistake in qualifying yesterday saw him relegated the mid-field. Exactly the same circumstance happened again in today’s session, with Power flirting with Newgarden’s pole-position time until he understeered into the wall at the end of the back straight. He will start in eleventh-place as a result.
Like Power, Arrow Schmidt Peterson’s Marcus Ericsson was on a lap that would have easily seen him inside the top ten until a mistake in the final sector. He will start in twelfth place. Further back, last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, will start outside of the top ten for the second day in a row, qualifying his #22 Penske Chevrolet disappointingly far down in fourteenth place. Fellow Indy 500 winners, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato, will line-up just behind Pagenaud in fifteenth and sixteenth respectively. Sato will be looking to charge through the order to take a podium finish, just as he did yesterday after starting in ninth place.
Perhaps the driver most out of position for the start of this afternoon’s race will be Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s, Graham Rahal. The American suffered a gearbox failure after his first lap in qualifying, thus relegating him to twenty-second and last on the grid. The winner of both Detroit races in 2017 will be hoping to find that form once again in his quest to charge through the order later on today.
2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Grand Prix of Detroit – Race two qualifying results:
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