Josef Newgarden Bests Herta and Dixon En Route to Pole for Detroit Race Two as Askew Makes Return in Place of Rosenqvist.

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(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Josef Newgarden took advantage of the early qualifying session’s much cooler temperatures and extra rubber on the track to take pole for the second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle. The Team Penske driver will be joined on the front row by Andretti Autosport‘s Colton Herta, and the two will be chased down on the second row by yesterday’s runner-up Rinus Veekay and championship leader Alex Palou who will start third and fourth respectively. Dominant drivers in yesterday’s race like Will Power, Marcus Ericsson and Patricio O’Ward will all start deep in the field.

Like yesterday’s qualifying session, the teams followed the same condensed, two-round knockout qualifying format instead of the usual three. The first round split the field in half, with the six fastest in each session moving on to the next. Normally, there would be another session to whittle the field down further to six, but for this weekend those twelve all vie for pole.

Herta set the pace for the first group with a lap time of 1:16.080, while Oliver Askew made his return to the NTT IndyCar Series and Arrow McLaren SP in relief of Felix Rosenqvist. Following Rosenqvist’s scary crash at turn six during yesterday’s race, he was taken to a hospital in downtown Detroit and was held overnight for further examination. No bones were broken, but the team knew he wasn’t going to race today.

Luckily, Askew was helping coach some of the Indy Lights drivers for Andretti Autosport this weekend, and having prevous experience with the team, they had all of his measurements ready to go to get him in the car. These were Askew’s first laps ever around the incredibly physical Belle Isle street circuit, and he finished last in the group.

Also bumped out of the session were Ryan Hunter-Reay and yesterday’s fourth place finisher Takuma Sato, but Sebastien Bourdais was the one who just missed the cut, beaten by Ed Jones to sixth place by just one one thousandth of a second. Max Chilton and Scott McLaughlin were the other two drivers eliminated.

Group two was full of contenders, with the fastest time being six tenths faster than that of group one, a 1:15.466 set by Alexander Rossi. O’Ward bent the rear left tow link when he hit the wall in turn twelve, keeping him in the pits while many set fast laps. This saw the young Mexican plummet down the timing sheets from second to eighth, eliminating him from fast twelve contention to start sixteenth. A far cry from the pole he claimed yesterday.

Oliver Askew behind the wheel preparing for his return to IndyCar. (Photo Credit: Matt Fraver / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Also eliminated in this group were Power and Ericsson. Power said on the radio after the session that he didn’t realize he was on his last lap and thought he had time for one more lap, putting him tenth fastest in the group and will start the race from twentieth. Ericsson, who won his first IndyCar Series race at Power’s expense yesterday, finished just behind him in eleventh and will start the race from twenty-second. James Hinchcliffe, Jack Harvey, Dalton Kellett and Jimmie Johnson were also eliminated in this session.

After a ten minute break for adjustments to be made to the cars, the fast twelve lived up to its name. As the session really began to heat up, drivers set competitive lap times on the black-wall primary tyres thanks to the much cooler track conditions this morning. Scott Dixon had to serve a drive-through penalty during this session for unapproved adjustments to the car that cost him valuable time in the ten-minute session, but he was still able to set a competitive lap time. Newgarden and Herta traded the top spot back and forth as the session waned, but Newgarden got the last laugh as nobody was able to match his blistering lap time of 1:14.109.

In the final seconds of the session as drivers were completing their final laps, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Santino Ferrucci clobbered the outside wall in turn thirteen. This brought out a red flag that would end the session and eliminate Ferrucci’s fastest laps to put him twelfth in the session. More importantly, however, the RLLR crew have their work cut out for them to get the car repaired in time for the race, starting less than three hours from the time of the crash. The twenty-three year old American walked away unharmed from the accident.

While nobody was able to touch Newgarden and Herta, the rest of the top five was filled with drivers who are at Belle Isle for the first time this weekend. Veekay continued his stellar run with a third place start, while Palou improved greatly from starting dead last yesterday to now starting on the second row of the grid. Romain Grosjean qualified third for race one, but fifth place in race two is still incredibly impressive at a track that many have said is incredibly difficult to learn on the fly.

From rookies to veterans, Dixon will start the race next to Grosjean in sixth despite losing time to that penalty, while good friends Rossi and Conor Daly make up row four in seventh and eighth, with Daly’s efforts making it two cars in the top ten for Ed Carpenter Racing. Graham Rahal went from starting twentieth yesterday to ninth today in a strong session, while Simon Pagenaud stays consistent with another top ten qualifying in tenth today. Row six will consist of Jones, who slipped from starting fourth yesterday but still had another great qualifying for the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team, and Ferrucci in twelfth. In the event that Ferrucci is unable to get his car repaired for the race, Bourdais will start in his place.

The second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will take place at 1200 EST / 1700 BST.

Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit Starting Grid

12Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:14.109
226Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:14.430
321Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:14.818
410Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:14.843
551Romain Grosjean (R)FRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:14.906
69Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:14.923
727Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:15.352
820Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:15.416
915Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:15.418
1022Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske01:15.529
1118Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan01:15.947
1245Santino FerrucciUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:16.114
1314Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:16.538
1429James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport01:15.953
1559Max ChiltonGBRCarlin01:16.608
165Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:16.080
1728Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport01:16.645
1860Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing01:16.135
1930Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:16.894
2012Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:16.438
213Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske01:17.181
228Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:16.551
237Oliver AskewUSAArrow McLaren SP01:19.148
244Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:16.580
2548Jimmie Johnson (R)USAChip Ganassi Racing01:17.983
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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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