Romain Grosjean Takes First IndyCar Pole for GMR Grand Prix

3 Mins read
(Photo Credit: James Black / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing rookie Romain Grosjean wheeled his way to his first NTT IndyCar Series pole position, his first in ten years of competition, and will lead the field to green for the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Team Penske‘s Josef Newgarden qualified second, and will start alongside him tomorrow afternoon.

Group 1 of Q1 saw a few strong drivers get bumped early, as Arrow McLaren SP‘s Felix Rosenqvist narrowly missed out on Q2 and will start thirteenth, his best qualifying effort of the season. Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan‘s Ed Jones finished third in the group, an impressive run for a returning Jones. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus Veekay was the fastest the group, and his lap gives the drivers eliminated in Q1 the odd-numbered positions at the back of the grid.

Group 2 was loaded with championship contenders, but with only six spots advancing there were bound to be some good drivers left out. Unfortunately, those unlucky few include the likes of Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon and Patricio O’Ward, who will start fourteenth, sixteenth, and eighteenth respectively. This was Dixon’s first time on the softer, red-wall Firestone tyres this weekend, after a clutch issue cost him time in second practice. Both rookies Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin survived this group to advance, as well as Conor Daly at his home track.

The action only intensified in Q2, when three-time GMR Grand Prix/Indy GP winner Will Power spun in turn thirteen with seven minutes left, and brought out a red flag. Per IndyCar rules, Power was not allowed to continue in the session, and had his two-fastest laps invalidated for causing a red flag. He will start twelfth.

The session restarted with three minutes left, and with time not on the teams’ side everyone switched to the red tyres to put in a fast lap. More lightning-fast cars were eliminated, like that of Veekay, who was at the top of the timing sheets all day, Colton Herta and Simon Pagenaud who will start seventh, eighth and tenth respectively. Sandwiched in ninth is the aforementioned Jones, who had his best qualifying effort since returning to IndyCar.

Q3 saw three first-time participants in Grosjean, McLaughlin and Daly, joined by regular fast qualifiers Newgarden, Alex Palou and Jack Harvey. Grosjean pushed his car to the limit, and benefitted from the timing of the checkered flag not allowing Newgarden another lap. Harvey looked as though he could possibly take the spot, but after running the slightest margin wide in turn ten on the run to the timing and scoring line he was unable to get the spot.

This is not only the first time Grosjean has reach a Q3 in a knockout qualifying format since the 2019 Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix, but his first pole dating all the way back to 2011 when he was racing in the GP2 series, now known as F2. Alongside him is the ever-consistent Newgarden in second place, the highest of three Penske cars in the top ten.

(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Harvey equaled his best qualifying effort and race finish at this very event, and will start third. Joining him on row two will be Palou, who rebounded incredibly from a hose leak in Practice 1 to start fourth. He is the only Chip Ganassi Racing car inside the top ten.

Row three will be composed of all newcomers to Q3, with McLaughlin fifth and Daly sixth in impressive efforts by both teams. While Daly has started higher than sixth before in his career, this is his first time reaching Q3 in a knockout-style format.

Jimmie Johnson was the only driver of this incredible rookie class to not be at the top end of the grid, but this is the closest he’s been to the pole time so far, roughly 1.6 seconds off the pole time. Still adjusting to a completely new discipline of motorsport, he will start twenty-third.

Returning faces to the grid for the month of May, Charlie Kimball of A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Juan Pablo Montoya of Arrow McLaren SP are still focused on getting acclimated to the cars again, and will start twenty-first and twenty-fifth respectively. Montoya has been uncomfortable in the car through all sessions today, and will hopefully be more adjusted for the Indianapolis 500.

The GMR Grand Prix will take place tomorrow, 15 May, at 1400 EST / 1900 BST.

GMR Grand Prix Qualifying Results

151Romain Grosjean (R)FRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:09.439
22Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:09.566
360Jack HarveyENGMeyer Shank Racing01:09.652
410Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:09.711
53Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske01:09.714
620Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:09.866
721Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:09.818
826Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:09.822
918Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan01:09.854
1022Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske01:09.872
1115Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:09.906
1212Will PowerAUSTeam PenskeNo Time
137Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP01:09.824
1427Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:09.901
158Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:09.838
169Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:09.951
1730Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:09.866
185Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:10.072
1928Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport01:09.875
2014Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:10.183
2111Charlie KimballUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:10.681
2229James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport01:10.617
2348Jimmie Johnson (R)USAChip Ganassi Racing01:11.045
244Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:10.931
2586Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLArrow McLaren SP01:11.137
(R) = Rookie / Carlin had to withdrawal from the event after Max Chilton was unable to make the race due to travel restrictions.
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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