Friday Qualifying Wrap-Up

For the second time in five days, I was at a race track as darkness began to fall with cars still on track. It was not near as dark at IMS as it was in Nashville this past Sunday night, but a few dark clouds crept over as the final round was being run.

Pato O’Ward barely nipped Will Power for the pole. Power had posted a time of 1:10.7214, but O’Ward was just a little quicker at 1:10.7147. For comparison, Romain Grosjean won the pole on this track in May, with a time of 1:09.5476; but he didn’t have to deal with Goodyear rubber on the track for an Xfinity practice just before qualifying. (All photos by Susan)

Pato pole

Aside from the close battle for the front row, most were talking about the sudden success of the driver no one had heard of before this week – Christian Lungaard, from Denmark. The Formula 2 driver is in the No.45 car that Santino Ferrucci has driven in several races this season. While Ferrucci has had some very good runs, Lungaard has really raised eyebrows here today. He will start fourth on Saturday.

With O’Ward on pole and Power starting second, it will be an all-Chevy front row followed by the five Hondas of Romain Grosjean, Lundgaard, Colton Herta, Alex Palou and Jack Harvey, respectively. Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay and Alexander Rossi round out the Top Ten; while last week’s winner, Marcus Ericsson will start eleventh.

There were a few disappointed drivers. Josef Newgarden will roll off fourteenth (although he will be given a six grid-spot penalty for an unauthorized engine change), Scott McLaughlin qualified twenty-first, Helio Castroneves will start twenty-third – one spot worse that Jimmie Johnson. Perhaps the most disappointed was Scott Dixon (my choice to win), who will start twenty-sixth. Only Cody Ware and Dalton Kellett were slower.

When things are going well for O’Ward, he is really up. When they are not, well…you know it. The last three races have not gone well for O’Ward and you could tell. Suffice it to say that tonight, he was very, very happy. He was very animated during the post race press conference.

press conf

pato press

That is going to do it for tonight. I will be an early day tomorrow with the morning warmup going at 8:45 am EDT and the race coverage starts at 12:30, with a 12:45 green flag. Tomorrow morning, I’ll post some of the things we found today, including photos and videos. Susan will also have a post before the race. It will be a full and early day. Please check back early tomorrow.

George Phillips

One Response to “Friday Qualifying Wrap-Up”

  1. Very exciting qualy and so tight. My only query being that Christian Lundgaard kind of showed up the regulars. Ok let’s see in the race, European style track etc but would Santino have put it fourth? We will never know however Indycar needs to power up the engines quickly to move up from F1.5 and then see more drivers attracted to the series and less Cody’s. Nothing personal but we want the best through the whole grid. RP will need to check that America has a minimum of 30% of the grid in terms of driver nationality for obvious reasons. Also put a ceiling on entries. Create equity in team ownership. It’s all on the up but needs careful management. Kyle, Logan step on up!

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