Alexander Rossi took pole for the first race of the IndyCar Series‘ double-header Detroit Grand Prix weekend for Andretti Autosport.
Group 2 runner Rossi edged out Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon by just over two-tenths to take the top spot with a lap time of 1:14.1989, while 2017 champion Josef Newgarden also starts on the front row due to his table-topping lap in Group 1.
Newgarden draws level in the championship with points leader Simon Pagenaud, due to IndyCar’s one point reward for being fastest in a group.
As the bumpy Belle Isle track improved further, Rossi and Dixon were embroiled in an intense late battle for pole position – one that was kicked off by Dixon reasserting his place on provisional pole with a 1:14.5838.
Rossi responded with his best time to go over half-a-second clear with less than a minute remaining on the session timer, with Dixon looking to immediately regain the spot he had just ceded.
However, a slide exiting the final corner cost the New Zealander over two-tenths and prevented the Chip Ganassi driver from bettering former Formula 1 driver Rossi’s time.
Newgarden took advantage of Team Penske team-mate Will Power‘s mistakes on both of his flying laps on the red-walled alternate tyres – the Australian unable to make a big enough improvement on his best time on the primaries.
Power will start the first race from a disappointing twelfth position, sandwiched between Graham Rahal and 2019 Indianapolis 500 victor Pagenaud.
Felix Rosenqvist also benefitted from Power’s misfortunes – the Swede was the first runner to show major time gains on the alternates but ended the first session 0.1 seconds away from Newgarden and starts from a promising fourth place.
Standout rookie Colton Herta made strides in his bid to put the disappointment of Indianapolis behind him with the third-fastest time of the Group 2 runners; but the Harding Racing driver irked the stewards by speeding in the pitlane.
Rossi’s Andretti team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay starts from sixth, unable to sneak inside 0.3s of Newgarden’s time, ahead of Carlin‘s Patricio O’Ward and Andretti’s Zach Veach.
Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe rounded out the top 10