Alex Pole-ou Takes First Career Pole for Grand Prix of Portland

3 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Alex Palou adds to his weekend of firsts, claiming his maiden NTT IndyCar Series pole position on his first trip to Portland International Raceway for the Grand Prix of Portland.

Palou was fastest in the early practice session even after bringing out a red flag, and was fastest in every segment of qualifying he participated in. After an engine failure and wreck in the past two races, Palou sets him self in the prime position to take his third win of the season.

Group one hit the track first, including the likes of Alexander Rossi, Romain Grosjean, Helio Castroneves and Patricio O’Ward. Marcus Ericsson was the fastest in the group, with Rossi and Graham Rahal right behind, while Grosjean and Castroneves missed out on the top six. Championship leader O’Ward narrowly escaped the session in sixth along with surprise advancements in Oliver Askew and Max Chilton.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was expected to compete in this group, but due to engine issues in the earlier practice session he did not participate as his team performed an engine change. He will start from the back of the field. IndyCar rookie Callum Ilott was also in this group, finishing eleventh for Juncos Hollinger Racing. He will start the race tomorrow in nineteenth.

Post session, race control announced that Grosjean impeded McLaughlin as he was setting up for his next flying lap. While both were outside of the spots to advance, Grosjean will now start twenty-first.

Group two consisted of other major title contenders like Palou, Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden. Shockingly, Newgarden was unable to advance, as well as fast cars in Jack Harvey and Will Power. Felix Rosenqvist went fastest in the session, while teammates Palou and Dixon advanced to gain serious ground on their title rival. Pushing out some of these top names were Ed Jones and Sebastien Bourdais, who put together strong laps to advance in fifth and sixth respectively.

Newgarden, who was dumbfounded about the lack of pace, will start the race eighteenth.

(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar)

In the fast twelve, half of the field began the session on the alternate red tyres, including the likes of Palou, Dixon and O’Ward. The strategy worked for the two CGR drivers, as well as Rossi and Colton Herta, as they all advanced along with Graham Rahal. Unfortunately for O’Ward, he was bounced from the fast six by his Arrow McLaren SP teammate Rosenqvist, giving a boost to his championship rivals.

Chilton was among the drivers eliminated in the fast twelve, but his eleventh place starting position is his best all year, and the first time he and the Carlin team have advanced out of the first round of qualifying this year as well.

In the fast six, Palou once again out-dueled his veteran teammate Dixon for his first pole, with Andretti Autosport‘s Rossi stealing second to split the two PNC Bank Hondas. Dixon will start the race third with Rosenqvist alongside in fourth, the Swede’s best qualifying session of the season. Rounding out the fast six and making up row three will be Rahal in fifth and Herta in sixth.

O’Ward will start seventh having been narrowly eliminated by his teammate, and he will start alongside Jones in eighth. Completing the top ten will be a fifth row that features Oliver Askew in his first race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and Ericsson as he tries to stay in the championship hunt.

The Grand Prix of Portland will take place on Sunday 12 September at 1500 EST / 1200 PST / 2200 BST.

Grand Prix of Portland Qualifying Results

110Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing00:58.770 sec.
227Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport00:58.857 sec.
39Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing00:58.867 sec.
47Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP00:58.950 sec.
515Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing00:59.006 sec.
626Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport00:59.279 sec.
75Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP00:58.973 sec.
818Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan00:59.024 sec.
945Oliver AskewUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing00:59.083 sec.
108Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing00:59.090 sec.
1159Max ChiltonGBRCarlin00:59.234 sec.
1214Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises00:59.241 sec.
1329James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport00:59.253 sec.
1412Will PowerAUSTeam Penske00:59.003 sec.
153Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske00:59.356 sec.
1620Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing00:59.097 sec.
176Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing00:59.419 sec.
182Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske00:59.137 sec.
1977Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger Racing00:59.500 sec.
2060Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing00:59.146 sec.
2151Romain Grosjean (R)FRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing00:59.634 sec.
2221Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing00:59.188 sec.*
2348Jimmie Johnson (R)USAChip Ganassi Racing00:59.712 sec.
2430Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing00:59.195 sec.
2528Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti AutosportNo Time
2622Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske00:59.659 sec.
274Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises00:59.743 sec.
(R) = Rookie
(*) = Subject to six position grid penalty for unapproved engine change
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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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