Alexander Rossi Takes Pole, Avoids Rain at Road America

3 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

For the eighth time in as many races this season, Alexander Rossi gets his first pole position of the year ahead of the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America, his first since the first race of the 2019 Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader almost three years ago.

Rossi set his fastest lap on the Firestone black primary tyres, battling Josef Newgarden who was on a set of alternate reds. In the end, the harder tyre prevailed, giving Rossi a much deserved pole position, while Newgarden starts beside him.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in this position,” Rossi said. “It’s amazing, it’s cool, we’ll enjoy it, but we’ve got a job to do tomorrow.”

Rossi noted that the car feels almost as good as the car he had when he dominated this track in 2019, leading all but one lap and winning by a gap of over 28 seconds.

“I think we’re really strong on the primaries, the balance isn’t quite there on the Firestone reds, I think we struggled a little bit through the first two rounds. We knew that if we could get there then it would be ours to lose, really.”

Row two is a Chip Ganassi Racing lockout, with Alex Palou starting third and Marcus Ericsson fourth, while row three is comprised of Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward who finished fifth and sixth in the final round of qualifying. O’Ward joined Newgarden as the only other driver in the Fast Six to run the red tyres.

Rain loomed large over the entire qualifying session, and while sprinkles fell it was never enough to warrant rain tyres. It was damp enough, however, to not help Callum Ilott scrub off some speed as he went off-track at the start of the Fast Twelve and bring out a red flag. The British rookie locked up in the bumpy final corner, and when the front end didn’t respond it sent him into the gravel trap and further into the tyre barrier. He was able to get back to pit road without a tow, but nobody was able to set a banker lap with eyes still on the rain clouds overhead.

Drivers only had about six minutes to set laps once the accident was cleared, while Romain Grosjean had even less time after he was unable to get his Andretti Autosport Honda in gear. The Frechman hit the track with three minutes left, enough time to get in one flying lap. Optimal lap times came on lap two of a run, but even without that Grosjean narrowly missed out on the Fast Six by just over one tenth of a second. He will start seventh.

Championship leader and qualifying ace Will Power was shockingly eliminated in the first round, unable to advance out of a group that saw Rossi, Grosjean, Herta, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon go to the Fast Twelve. Power finds himself down the order starting fifteenth. He was the only Team Penske driver to not advance out of the first round.

Also eliminated in Q1 were Helio Castroneves, Rinus Veekay, Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Christian Lundgaard and David Malukas, among others.

The Sonsio Grand Prix takes place Sunday 12 June at 0930 PST / 1230 EST / 1630 GMT.

Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America Qualifying Results

127Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:44.8656
22Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:44.9371
310Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:45.3822
48Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:45.4240
526Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:45.5388
65Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:45.6826
728Romain GrosjeanFRAAndretti Autosport01:45.1543
87Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP01:45.2307
93Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske01:45.2412
109Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:45.2446
1160Simon PagenaudFRAMeyer Shank Racing01:45.2759
1277Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger RacingNo Time
1330Christian Lundgaard (R)DENRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:45.4024
1418David Malukas (R)USADale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports01:45.6017
1512Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:45.4227
1606Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing01:45.6217
1721Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:45.5581
1820Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:45.7234
1951Takuma SatoJPNDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:45.7045
2045Jack HarveyGBRRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:45.9420
2129Devlin DeFrancesco (R)CANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport01:46.0785
2215Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:45.9951
234Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:46.9755
2414Kyle Kirkwood (R)USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:46.6130
2511Tatiana Calderon (R)COLA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:47.5661
2648Jimmie JohnsonUSAChip Ganassi Racing01:47.3134
2716Simona De SilvestroSUIParetta Autosport01:48.1033
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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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