15 May 2021
Romain Grosjean scored a popular maiden IndyCar pole position at the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Road Course, beating two-time series champion Josef Newgarden to the top spot.
Taking part in just his third event, having skipped the two oval races in Texas, Dale Coyne Racing driver Grosjean’s best time of 1 minute 09.4396 seconds in the final ‘Fast Six’ part of qualifying was enough to usurp the 2020 Harvest GP winner by 0.1269s.
As well as being the 10-time Formula 1 podium finisher’s first IndyCar pole, it was also his first in any competition since 2011 GP2 season opener in Istanbul.
In a final session that was missing a number of big names, Jack Harvey continued his strong start to the year to qualify third fastest – his second top three qualifying run this year – ahead of Barber winner Alex Palou.
Fresh from back-to-back top-10s in Texas, Scott McLaughlin scored his best road course qualifying result of his burgeoning IndyCar career with fifth, with Conor Daly rounding out the Fast Six.
Rinus VeeKay will start Saturday’s race in seventh after missing out on the pole position shootout by less than four tenths of a second. His fastest time in the second part of qualifying bettered St. Petersburg winner Colton Herta, while Penske duo Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were among the other high-profile drivers to miss out on a chance at the top spot.
For Power, his only time, set on the slower ‘Black’ tyre was deleted after he brought out a red flag after spinning and was unable to continue.
The absence of both Pagenaud and Power, who share seven Indianapolis road course wins between them, from the final part of qualifying was a surprise – but perhaps no more of a shock than six-time champion and current points leader Scott Dixon missing out on advancing from the opening round.
Dixon could only manage eighth fastest in the second 12-car group of the first part of qualifying, with only the fastest six from each group advancing further.
He was one spot behind Alexander Rossi, who was a pacesetter in practice. Fellow Texas winner Pato O’Ward meanwhile was a position behind in that second group, with Felix Rosenqvist, Takuma Sato, and Ryan Hunter-Reay among those that missed out from the other group.
Juan Pablo Montoya, making his first IndyCar start since the 2017 Indianapolis 500, qualified 25th and last in the third Arrow McLaren entry after having his best times deleted for impeding Palou.
1. (51) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 1:09.4396 (126.447 mph)
2. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:09.5665 (126.216)
3. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 1:09.6528 (126.060)
4. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 1:09.7118 (125.953)
5. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 1:09.7140 (125.949)
6. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 1:09.8662 (125.675)
7. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 1:09.8185 (125.760)
8. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 1:09.8222 (125.754)
9. (18) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:09.8548 (125.695)
10. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:09.8722 (125.664)
11. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:09.9060 (125.603)
12. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, No Time (No Speed)
13. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 1:09.8243 (125.750)
14. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:09.9012 (125.612)
15. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 1:09.8382 (125.725)
16. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:09.9512 (125.522)
17. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:09.8665 (125.674)
18. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 1:10.0726 (125.304)
19. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:09.8759 (125.657)
20. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 1:10.1830 (125.107)
21. (11) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 1:10.6810 (124.226)
22. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:10.6174 (124.338)
23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 1:11.0455 (123.588)
24. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 1:10.9312 (123.788)
25. (86) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 1:11.1370 (123.429)