Last-lap magic wins Detroit GP pole for Newgarden

Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

Last-lap magic wins Detroit GP pole for Newgarden

IndyCar

Last-lap magic wins Detroit GP pole for Newgarden

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Once the Firestone Fast 12 and Fast Six knockout rounds were complete for the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden earned the 16th pole of his career and first since Long Beach in 2021, taking the No. 2 Chevy for a wild ride around the bumpy street circuit in 1m15.2153s.

“I was loose,” Newgarden exclaimed. “I was about hitting the wall in every corner. It was so loose, but I just had to stay in it. That was a good pole. We put it together; I’m really proud of the team.”

Takuma Sato held the pole until Newgarden — the last driver to cross the timing line — pipped the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda by 0.1337s. It was a banner performance for the Coyne team as Sato’s rookie teammate David Malukas earned P6 on his first trip to the last round of qualifying.

“You can’t underestimate these boys,” Sato said of losing out to Newgarden, who took his third Belle Isle pole. “We were just a little bit short. Two cars in the top six; that’s really a team effort.”

Similar to DCR, Meyer Shank Racing also featured in qualifying with Simon Pagenaud taking P3 in the No. 60 Honda (+0.1798s) directly ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves in the No. 06 MSR Honda (+0.2385s). Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward was a distant P5 in the No. 5 Chevy (+1.1148s) and the aforementioned Malukas in the No. 18 DCR with HMD Motorsport Honda (+1.3951s).

Castroneves joins Meyer Shank Racing teammate Pagenaud on the third row. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

After the Fast 12 session was over, a few drivers were less than happy as their final laps were rendered meaningless when Romain Grosjean hit the wall with the left side of the car entering the final turn, which broke the left-rear toe link and sent the Andretti Autosport driver spinning backwards into the wall. The Swiss-born Frenchman did not appear to suffer any injuries in the crash.

Unable to complete their runs at full speed, the big losers included Grosjean’s teammate Colton Herta in P7 who was the top driver for the Andretti team, a frustrated Marcus Ericsson in P8 who was the best for the Chip Ganassi Racing team, teammate Scott Dixon in P9, Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin in P10 and the Andretti duo of Alexander Rossi in P11 and Grosjean in P12. In the stack-up of drivers trying to create clear space to perform unimpeded qualifying laps, Ericsson wasn’t impressed by Dixon’s efforts.

“It’s a shame when it’s your own teammate that’s causing you to miss the Fast Six,” Ericsson said. Dixon acknowledged the incident after the session, adding, “I think I backed up into [Ericsson] which probably screwed him.”

Some heavy hitters missed the cut to crack into the Fast 12, led by Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, Penske’s Will Power and Ganassi’s Alex Palou.

“I lost all grip on my third lap; I don’t know what happened there,” said VeeKay, who starts P14. “We are way off.”

VeeKay’s teammate Conor Daly (P13) was the first to miss the Fast 12 transfer in the opening group of qualifiers; VeeKay was the first to miss out in the second group. For Power — who thought he was held up by Palou but was not, according to a review by IndyCar’s race control — it will be another long drive to the front of the field.

“Man, this track is so tough to qualify on,” Power said after earning a P16 starting position. “We just missed out. It is what it is, man.”

Palou will start well behind his front-running teammates in 18th.

“Not the best session for us,” he said. “We’ll have to work a but more tomorrow and try to get them.”

Notable performers included Kyle Kirkwood, who nursed an injured right hand from his crash Saturday morning when the brakes on his A.J. Foyt Racing Chevy failed and placed the No. 14 car in P15, and Juncos Hollinger Racing sub Santino Ferrucci who kissed the exit wall on his final lap, but still managed to earn P17 in the No. 77 Chevy.

Among the others who were disappointed after qualifying, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s team’s struggles refused to relent. Led by Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey on Row 10, the RLL drivers will start P19 and P20, with Graham Rahal down in P23.

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