Rinus VeeKay took his maiden IndyCar series pole position in qualifying for the first race of the Harvest Grand Prix double-header on the Indianapolis road course, just pipping Colton Herta.
VeeKay, in his first season in the IndyCar series driving for Ed Carpenter Racing, was one of 13 drivers to run in the second group of a split qualifying session at the 2.4-mile 14-turn circuit with the Dutchman improving his pace on the softer Firestone Red tyres, after the group had posted Black tyre benchmark times.
The #21 Chevrolet powered machine posted a 1m09.6903s during a flurry of times late in the session, which no other driver could match.
Herta, driving for the Harding Steinbrenner Andretti Autosport-affiliated squad, had held top spot following the Black tyre runs, but the Honda-powered #88 entry could not find as much time as VeeKay on the Red tyres, and fell 0.0145 seconds short of usurping VeeKay’s time, and will start third.
This came after a disrupted group one session left the likes of championship leader Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud stranded in the midfield after an off for Takuma Sato on his Red tyre out-lap.
Indianapolis 500 winner Sato beached his Rahal Letterman Laningan entry in the Turn 2 gravel with three minutes remaining on the clock, just as the 12 drivers in that group were preparing to try and beat their Black tyre times.
With the guaranteed five minutes of track time having passed for the group, the clock ran out while Sato’s car was removed from the gravel, distributing some of it around the circuit as he made his way back to the pits.
With no chance for this group to improve their times, Josef Newgarden’s 1m10.4706s, set early in the session, was enough to top the segment.
Under the qualifying format, the fastest driver overall secures the odd numbered grid spots, with the fastest driver in the other group claiming the even slots.
This means that Newgarden, now 71 points behind Chip Ganassi driver Dixon after picking up a bonus point, will start second, with five-time series champion Dixon 12th, Pagenaud 22nd and Sato 24th.
Helio Castroneves, standing in at Arrow McLaren SP for Oliver Askew after the Floridian driver reported concussion-like symptoms after his Indy 500 crash, earlier in the week gambled on running two sets of Red tyres during his group two running.
The four-time championship runner-up could only managed 19th on the grid however, with team-mate Pato O’Ward in 10th.
Behind Herta, Will Power, Marco Andretti and Jack Harvey complete the top six.
Further back, on his return to IndyCar competition, Sebastien Bourdais will start from 16th.
|1||Rinus Van Kalmthout||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara/Chevrolet||1m09.6903s|
|2||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara/Chevrolet||0.7803s|
|3||Colton Herta||Andretti Harding||Dallara/Honda||0.0145s|
|4||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara/Chevrolet||0.8783s|
|5||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||Dallara/Honda||0.0237s|
|6||Jack Harvey||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara/Honda||0.9331s|
|7||Felix Rosenqvist||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara/Honda||0.1104s|
|8||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Dallara/Honda||0.9597s|
|10||Patricio O’Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara/Chevrolet||1.0387s|
|11||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||Dallara/Honda||0.1927s|
|12||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara/Honda||1.2050s|
|13||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||Dallara/Honda||0.2969s|
|14||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara/Chevrolet||1.2471s|
|15||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara/Honda||0.3114s|
|16||Sebastien Bourdais||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara/Chevrolet||1.2685s|
|17||Alex Palou||Dale Coyne Racing||Dallara/Honda||0.3420s|
|18||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||Dallara/Honda||1.2727s|
|19||Helio Castroneves||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara/Chevrolet||0.7062s|
|20||Santino Ferrucci||Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan||Dallara/Honda||1.3137s|
|21||Sage Karam||Dreyer & Reinbold||Dallara/Chevrolet||0.9321s|
|22||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||Dallara/Chevrolet||1.3585s|
|23||Charlie Kimball||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara/Chevrolet||1.0597s|
|24||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||Dallara/Honda||5.2080s|
|25||Dalton Kellett||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara/Chevrolet||2.0334s|