Grosjean on St Petersburg IndyCar pole, McLaughlin spins

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean has qualified on pole position at the St Petersburg IndyCar event while 2022 race winner Scott McLaughlin spun out of contention in the Fast Six.

On a relatively difficult day for Team Penske, McLaughlin was the highlight as he qualified sixth in the #3 Chevrolet, although it could have been better if he did not cause a second red flag in the final segment of qualifying.

Instead, it will be an Andretti Autosport front row lockout with Grosjean (#28 Honda) beating Colton Herta to pole position by a sizeable 0.4155s thanks to a late 0:59.5532s.

Pato O’Ward claimed third on the grid in the #5 McLaren Chevrolet, from Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson (#8 Honda), Kyle Kirkwood (#27 Andretti Honda), and McLaughlin.

Neither six-time champion Scott Dixon (#9 Ganassi Honda) nor Will Power (#12 Chevrolet) made the Fast Six and they will instead share Row 5, while the latter’s Penske team-mate and fellow two-time champion, Josef Newgarden (#2 Chevrolet), did not even advance from Round 1.

The final segment of qualifying on the St Petersburg street circuit, the Fast Six, went red flag just 20 seconds in when Kirkwood crashed at Turn 13.

In his first IndyCar Series start for Andretti Autosport, the 2021 Indy NXT champion locked the left-front as he was about to start his first flyer, understeering the #27 Honda off and into a bare concrete wall.

McLaughlin was first to set a flyer in the Fast Six, a 1:01.3947s, but came unstuck on his next lap.

As he did in Practice 1, the New Zealander touched the wall at Turn 10 but this time he could not save it when he negotiated the Turn 11/Turn 12 kink, losing control before coming to rest just beyond Turn 13, stalling, and thus bringing about a red flag.

Herta was originally credited with fastest lap during the stoppage but it was a little too late and the order was corrected as the four remaining drivers rolled out again.

With new alternates available for some, albeit not Ericsson, that was when matters were about to get really serious anyway.

Grosjean set a 1:00.1806s on the green-sidewall tyres, before O’Ward laid down a 1:00.1185s and then Herta punched out a 0:59.9687s.

The Californian then put his cue in the rack but Grosjean and O’Ward were still going, and the Frenchman was able to snatch pole position in emphatic fashion.

O’Ward improved his time but not his position with a 1:00.0163s after the chequered flag, while Ericsson scored fourth on a 1:00.4435s set on ‘black’ primary tyres.

On Row 3, Kirkwood is credited with fifth and McLaughlin sixth given their lap times reverted to Round 2 efforts.

Earlier, in said second segment, Alexander Rossi (#7 McLaren Chevrolet) completed an install lap before clocking a 1:00.0040s after what was thought to be an early switch to new alternate tyres.

He was quickest ahead of the final runs, from McLaughlin, Dixon, Power, Herta, and O’Ward, but most still had new ‘greens’ to come.

Felix Rosenqvist (#6 McLaren Chevrolet) then clocked a 0:59.7971s to go top, before Kirkwood, who had to serve an early drive-through as punishment for running long at Turn 4, set a 0:59.6357s.

Practice 2 pace-setter Herta set a 0:59.5442s just before the chequered flag came out, at which point seventh through 10th was Rosenqvist, Dixon, McLaughlin, and Power.

The latter was already back into the pits and hence locked into Row 5 at best, but McLaughlin dug out a 0:59.7686s on a second flying lap which saw the Kiwi move up and knock Palou out of the Fast Six.

The 2021 IndyCar champion is therefore set to start seventh, from Rosenqvist, Dixon, Power, Christian Lundgaard (#45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda), and Rossi.

In Round 1 of Qualifying, Rosenqvist set the pace in Group 1 on a 0:59.9396s.

Marcus Armstrong (#11 Ganassi Honda) had just moved up to fourth for that half-segment of qualifying when a red flag was called with 12 seconds to go after Simon Pagenaud (#60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda) nosed into the tyre wall at Turn 4.

Everyone had the opportunity for one more flyer and Kirkwood knocked Lundgaard out of the top six when he jumped to second on a 1:00.0451s.

Ericsson then lifted himself into fifth with a 1:00.2018s on black tyres, and just clung on when Lundgaard rebounded to second place with a 1:00.0121s, also on blacks, which shuffled Armstrong to seventh.

In Group 2, Dixon was fastest with a very late 0:59.8213s while the two Penske drivers in that 10-minute stanza were left either side of the cut-off.

Power just got in with a 1:00.0211s but Newgarden was knocked out in the final minute before the chequered flag when Rossi clocked a 0:59.9527s.

The seventh row of the starting grid is therefore Armstrong and Newgarden, with Helio Castroneves (#06 MSR Honda) 15th and David Malukas (#18 Dale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Honda) alongside him, while Graham Rahal (#15 RLLR Honda) qualified 20th and Pagenaud 25th.

The Warmup is next on Sunday at 09:00 ET/Monday at 01:00 AEDT, followed by the 100-lap Race at 12:20 ET/04:20 AEDT.

Both sessions are live and ad-free on Stan Sport, with coverage of the race beginning at 04:00 AEDT.

CLICK HERE for Qualifying highlights

Results: Qualifying

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Qual time Session
1 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F 0:59.5532 Round 3 / Fast Six
2 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 0:59.9687 Round 3 / Fast Six
3 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F 1:00.0163 Round 3 / Fast Six
4 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F 1:00.4435 Round 3 / Fast Six
5 27 Kyle Kirkwood D/H/F No Time Round 3 / Fast Six
6 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F No Time Round 3 / Fast Six
7 10 Alex Palou D/H/F 0:59.7781 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 6 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F 0:59.7971 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F 0:59.8010 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 12 Will Power D/C/F 0:59.9482 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 45 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F 0:59.9618 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 7 Alexander Rossi D/C/F 1:00.0040 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 11 Marcus Armstrong D/H/F 1:00.3158 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 1:00.0605 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 1:00.5049 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 18 David Malukas D/H/F 1:00.0796 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 14 Santino Ferrucci D/C/F 1:00.5301 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F 1:00.1798 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 30 Jack Harvey D/H/F 1:00.7270 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F 1:00.3714 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 78 Agustin Canapino D/C/F 1:01.0692 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
22 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 1:00.3868 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
23 51 Sting Ray Robb D/H/F 1:02.3711 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
24 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F 1:00.4831 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
25 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F 6:37.4112 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
26 20 Conor Daly D/C/F 1:00.6066 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
27 55 Benjamin Pedersen D/C/F 1:01.4355 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

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