Rahal ends six-year pole position drought at Indianapolis


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Six years since the last time he started on pole position in the IndyCar series, Graham Rahal will start up front once again at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rahal will lead an all-Rahal Letterman Lanigan front row in tomorrow’s 85-lap race around the grand prix course, with Toronto Indy winner Christian Lundgaard starting alongside him.

Lundgaard was holding onto provisional pole in the waning seconds of the Fast Six session, before Rahal surpassed him after the chequered flag and took the top spot with a time of 1’10.113, a tenth of a second clear of his Danish team mate.

For Rahal, it’s his first IndyCar pole since the first race of the 2017 Detroit Grand Prix. Rahal went on to sweep that double-header weekend, which is also his most recent IndyCar victory.

It was also a much happier return to the Speedway for Rahal, less than three months after he was bumped from the field at the Indianapolis 500 – on a day where all three of RLL’s full-time runners had to go through the Last Row Shoot-out. Rahal eventually made it into the race as a substitute for the injured Stefan Wilson.

Behind Lundgaard, who won pole at the same track in May, an all-McLaren second row sees Alexander Rossi third and Pato O’Ward fourth.

Devlin DeFrancesco, who has looked less and less likely to return to Andretti Autosport next season, recorded his best-ever IndyCar qualifying result in fifth place, ahead of Romain Grosjean in sixth.

Championship leader and Indianapolis GP winner Alex Palou missed the cut to fight for pole position in the second round, but he will start eighth tomorrow, alongside his Chip Ganassi Racing team mate Marcus Armstrong.

Crucially, Palou will start 11 places ahead of his nearest title rival, Josef Newgarden, who hadn’t been able to get up to speed since the morning’s practice session. Newgarden, visibly frustrated with his result, will start 19th.

Palou enters this weekend with an 84-point lead over Newgarden with four races left this season.

Jack Harvey finished eighth in qualifying but will take a six-place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change following the Music City Grand Prix last week, which demoted him to 14th on the grid and allowed Palou and several others to gain one place on the grid.

Helio Castroneves and David Malukas are also serving identical six-place grid penalties which will demote Castroneves to 18th on the grid, and Malukas to 27th and last, barring any additional grid penalties that may come before tomorrow.

This means Felix Rosenqvist will start ninth, ahead of Scott McLaughlin, Colton Herta, and rookie Linus Lundqvist, in his second race filling in for an injured Simon Pagenaud.

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Brickyard GP Provisional Starting Grid

115Graham RahalRLLHonda
245Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
37Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
45Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
529Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
628Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
711Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
810Alex PalouGanassiHonda
96Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
103Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
1126Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
1260Linus LundqvistMeyer ShankHonda
1327Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
1430Jack HarveyRLLHonda
159Scott DixonGanassiHonda
1612Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
178Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
1806Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
192Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
2021Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
2114Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
2220Ryan Hunter-ReayCarpenterChevrolet
2378Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2451Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
2577Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2655Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2718David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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2 comments on “Rahal ends six-year pole position drought at Indianapolis”

  1. Kind of a surprise to see Graham Rahal on pole for six years.
    Doubtful to see a win for him though.

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