Teammate Christian Lundgaard high-fives Graham Rahal after securing the pole position for the Gallagher Grand Prix.
Two-and-a-half months after being bumped from the Indianapolis 500, Graham Rahal got one back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Ohio native led a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing front row sweep, scoring his first IndyCar Series pole in six years at the IMS road course ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Grand Prix.
The #15 RLL Racing Honda went around the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course in 1:10.1132s to average 125.232mph, snatching pole position on the last lap of the session from team-mate Christian Lundgaard. Stan Sport is the only way to watch every round of the INDYCAR SERIES. Click here for all the action streaming ad-free, live and on demand.
In May, Rahal sat on the sidepod of his car in tears of sadness. Now, the tears were from joy after scoring his first pole since the first race of the Detroit doubleheader in June of 2017.
“Everybody’s seen it, we’ve had to work ridiculously hard to get back, so this isn’t a win but it feels like it for us,” Rahal said.
“I think everybody can imagine that. It’s just nice to feel competitive, it’s nice to be able to push and get something out of the car.
“You ask for it, you demand it and it’s there, and certainly I’m pleased because honestly through qualifying the balance had really gone away from me from this morning so I was pleased to make it happen and it feels really sweet.
“For this entire organization, it means the world, we expected to come here and be competitive but you never know what that means. “Last year, we were good in May and we struggled in August, and so to be able to see it translate and stuff this year and for me to get a pole, it means a lot, man. “Hopefully it makes the job a lot easier tomorrow.”
Last year’s Gallagher Grand Prix winner, Alexander Rossi, will start third ahead of Pato O’Ward in fourth, Devlin DeFrancesco in fifth and Romain Grosjean in sixth.
The first round began with 10 minutes of incident-free running for the first of two qualifying groups. That group had a massive shake-up in results as DeFrancesco led the group advancing to Round 2. While Jack Harvey, O’Ward, Scott McLaughlin, Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist also advanced, it was also shocking to see who didn’t advance.
Colton Herta, Nashville winner Kyle Kirkwood, Will Power and 2023 Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden all did not advance and will respectively start 13th, 15th, 17th and 19th.
Group 2 in the first round was also incident-free as Lundgaard led those advancing from the second group. Also advancing were Rahal, Grosjean, Helio Castroneves, IndyCar points leader Alex Palou and Marcus Armstrong. Other than Grosjean having a small excursion in the grass near Turn 12, there were no incidents of note in Round 2. After 10 more minutes of clean running, Rahal led those advancing to the Firestone Fast Six along with Lundgaard, Rossi, Grosjean, O’Ward and DeFrancesco.
This marked DeFrancesco’s first appearance in the final round of qualifying. After setting initial laps in the final six minutes of qualifying, all drivers came in for another set of the red sidewall alternate compound Firestone tyres that generate more grip at the expense of durability.
Lundgaard had provisional pole with a minute remaining before Rossi grabbed the top spot with 45 seconds to go.
O’Ward then set the fastest lap before Lundgaard reclaimed pole with 27 seconds remaining in the session. That provisional pole was short-lived as Rahal clinched pole position as the last car to take the chequered flag. While Harvey was provisionally eighth, Castroneves 12th and David Malukas 23rd on the grid, IndyCar announced six position penalties for these cars after their teams changed to a fifth engine without completing allotted mileage with the first four engines of the season.
As such, Harvey will start 14th, Castroneves will start 18th and Malukas will start 27th out of 27 cars. Results: Qualifying
PosNumDriverC/E/TQual timeSession115Graham RahalD/H/F1:10.1132Round 3 / Fast Six245Christian LundgaardD/H/F1:10.2286Round 3 / Fast Six37Alexander RossiD/C/F1:10.2932Round 3 / Fast Six45Pato O’WardD/C/F1:10.3453Round 3 / Fast Six529Devlin DeFrancescoD/H/F1:10.3938Round 3 / Fast Six628Romain GrosjeanD/H/F1:10.4021Round 3 / Fast Six711Marcus ArmstrongD/H/F1:10.2106Elimination Round 2 / Top 12830Jack HarveyD/H/F1:10.2228Elimination Round 2 / Top 12910Alex PalouD/H/F1:10.2974Elimination Round 2 / Top 12106Felix RosenqvistD/C/F1:10.4389Elimination Round 2 / Top 12113Scott McLaughlinD/C/F1:10.4782Elimination Round 2 / Top 121206Helio CastronevesD/H/F1:10.5207Elimination Round 2 / Top 121326Colton HertaD/H/F1:10.4398Elimination Round 1 / Group 11460Linus LundqvistD/H/F1:10.4570Elimination Round 1 / Group 21527Kyle KirkwoodD/H/F1:10.4869Elimination Round 1 / Group 1169Scott DixonD/H/F1:10.5006Elimination Round 1 / Group 21712Will PowerD/C/F1:10.5237Elimination Round 1 / Group 1188Marcus EricssonD/H/F1:10.6348Elimination Round 1 / Group 2192Josef NewgardenD/C/F1:10.6150Elimination Round 1 / Group 12021Rinus VeeKayD/C/F1:10.7249Elimination Round 1 / Group 22114Santino FerrucciD/C/F1:10.6461Elimination Round 1 / Group 12220Ryan Hunter-ReayD/C/F1:11.0083Elimination Round 1 / Group 22318David MalukasD/H/F1:10.8687Elimination Round 1 / Group 12478Agustin CanapinoD/C/F1:11.0611Elimination Round 1 / Group 22551Sting Ray RobbD/H/F1:11.5658Elimination Round 1 / Group 12677Callum IlottD/C/F1:11.1027Elimination Round 1 / Group 22755Benjamin PedersenD/C/F1:11.2971Elimination Round 1 / Group 2