Barber Qualifying

Qualifying for Sunday’s Children’s of Alabama Grand Prix was interesting, to say the least. Like the practices this weekend, the starting grid is going to be a mixed bag of young and old, Honda and Chevy, along with haves and have-nots.

Romain Grosjean won the pole for the second time this season, and becomes the first multiple pole winner of the season. Andretti Autosport has captured three of the four poles this season – in a sign they are definitely back as one of the top teams in the NTT IndyCar Series.

We watched the qualifying session from the bleachers on the backstretch, with our good friend Mike Silver, of The Pit Window. It’s been a few years since we caught qualifying from over there, but it is really a good place to watch. Here’s a sample of the view from over there.

The Firestone Fast Six consisted of six cars from five teams – Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing, Arrow McLaren, Team Penske and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Four Hondas and two Chevys made up the Fast Six. Two were older than thirty-six and two are younger that twenty-four. The youngest was twenty-one, while the oldest was forty-two.

Team Penske, probably the team with the deepest amount of resources, had one representative (Scott McLaughlin); while Rahal Letterman Lanigan, a second-level team that has struggled in 2023 had one (Christian Lundgaard)as well. This was about as balance a Firestone Fast Six as you will ever see. The only team with two drivers was Ganassi (Scott Dixon and Alex Palou). Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren made up the remainder of the Fast Six, along with Grosjean.

What is remarkable about Grosjean winning the pole today, is that he lost so much practice time yesterday, when he blew his Honda engine. Normally, when a driver misses so much practice time on Friday, they are playing catch-up for the rest of the weekend and struggling for a decent qualifying run. Rarely do you see them on the pole. That’s a credit to the Andretti team for getting his car back in order, but also to Grosjean’s ability to sort out a car quickly.

The winner from two weeks ago at Long Beach, Kyle Kirkwood, did not fare as well today. Two weeks ago he was on the pole, today he was the slowest car in Round Two – the result of a spin coming out of Turn Three.

Points leader Marcus Ericsson did not make it out of Round One of qualifying and will start thirteenth. While Christian Lundgaard made the Firestone Fast Six and will start sixth, his Rahal teammates never even threatened to get past Round One. Graham Rahal will start nineteenth tomorrow, while Jack Harvey will start twenty-fourth.

A pleasant surprise was Augustin Canapino. While starting twenty-second is nothing to celebrate, he picked up from his previous practice times. Callum Ilott, his Juncos Hollinger Racing teammate, will start fifteenth. Juncos needs a shot in the arm after a bad weekend at Long Beach, and a problematic Open test at IMS last week.

Speaking of a needed shot in the arm, Rinus VeeKay gave one to his Ed Carpenter Racing team. He did not make the Fast Six, but will start ninth tomorrow. Conor Daly struggled and will start twentieth.

Here are the first five rows of the starting grid for tomorrow’s IndyCar race at

1. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:05.8396 (125.760)
2. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:05.9130 (125.620)
3. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:05.9382 (125.572)
4. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:05.9515 (125.547)
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:06.0723 (125.317)
6. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:06.1601 (125.151)
7. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:05.9603 (125.530)
8. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:06.0930 (125.278)
9. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:06.1222 (125.223)
10. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 01:06.2091 (125.058)

That will do it for us right now. As I wrap this up, Susan is still typing away feverishly on her post, that will load up here just a little after this one – with her photos and her thoughts on the weekend. By the time you read this and refresh your browser, it should be here. If not, check back later.

The morning warmup is at 11:00 CDT tomorrow morning on Peacock. The race coverage begins on Big NBC at 2:00 CDT and the green flag flies around 2:30 pm. We will be here, so check here tomorrow morning. Don’t forget to check for Susan’s post here shortly.

George Phillips

One Response to “Barber Qualifying”

  1. Five minutes away from the TV broadcast, I thank you for blogging.

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