Pato on Pole! O’Ward Fastest in First Qualifying of the Season at Barber

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(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / IMS Photo / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Arrow McLaren SP‘s Patricio O’Ward claimed his second career NTT IndyCar Series pole position, setting the tone for the team ahead of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

The first group of Q1 saw Chip Ganassi Racing newcomer Alex Palou top the session, with the first lap time under 1:06.000. Joining him was Will Power as the only other driver to drop into that time for that session. On his final lap of the 10-minute session, rookie Scott McLaughlin managed to bump out Ed Jones and make his way into Q2. Fellow rookie Jimmie Johnson was also able to finally keep himself off of the bottom of the timing charts, finishing eleventh in the group and starting twenty-first for tomorrow’s race.

The second group of Q1 was filled with chaos, as with just under 8 minutes left in the session, James Hinchcliffe locked up his tyres and went nose-first into the barriers in turn 5. The session would resume with roughly 4 minutes to go, and O’Ward claimed the top spot, making an incredible save as he crossed the line. O’Ward’s teammate, Felix Rosenqvist, continued his bad luck from Practice 1 as he spun in turn 17 with under one minute left, bringing out a session ending red flag. Per IndyCar’s rules, Rosenqvist’s lap time was invalidated for causing a red flag, which allowed Colton Herta to make it through to the next round.

Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing driver Romain Grosjean impressed many by going second fastest in that session, and his pace continued into Q2. The 35-year-old rookie was near the top of the scoring charts all session long, before a flurry of fast lap times knocked him out of the Firestone Fast Six, with Power dealing the final blow. Josef Newgarden was another shocking elimination in this session, as the three time winner at Barber finished eighth in the session behind Grosjean.

The 6-minute Q3 session was relatively quiet until about two minutes to go, with O’Ward putting together a spectacular lap to take his first pole since the second race of the 2020 REV Group Grand Prix doubleheader. Andretti Autosport‘s Alexander Rossi joins him on the front row, carrying his momentum from being fastest in Practice 2 to a front row starting spot. Palou will start third on Sunday, continuing his quick start to the season with Ganassi alongside Power, who will start fourth.

Row three of the starting grid will be all Ganassi, as Scott Dixon finished the session in fifth place and Marcus Ericsson finished sixth in a very strong run for the 30-year-old Swede so far this weekend.

Drivers knocked out in Q1 will make up the back of the grid, with drivers who were knocked out in the first group making up the odd-numbered positions and the drivers in the second group making up the even-numbered positions.

The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will take place tomorrow at 1500 EST / 2000 BST. Coverage will be provided by Sky Sports F1 in the UK and NBC in the US.

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Qualifying Results

15Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:05.8479
227Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:05.9177
310Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:06.0538
412Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:06.1186
59Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:06.3976
68Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:06.4102
751Romain Grosjean (R)SUIDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:05.7643
82Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:05.7902
926Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:05.7957
1020Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:05.9118
1160Jack HarveyENGMeyer Shank Racing01:05.9634
123Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske01:06.7226
1318Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan01:06.5578
1421Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:06.4770
1522Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske01:06.6480
1614Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:06.5035
1728Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport01:06.8512
1815Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:06.8489
1930Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:07.1026
2059Max ChiltonENGCarlin01:07.0021
2148Jimmie Johnson (R)USAChip Ganassi Racing01:07.7092
227Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP01:07.0254*
234Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:07.8100
2429James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner AutosportNo Time
(R) = Rookie, (*) = Lap time invalidated for causing a red flag
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