Long Beach Qualifying Wrap-up

Photo: Alex Palou will start third Sunday. He had a quiet day, but like 2021, he snuck into the mix.

Just a few more thoughts about qualifying today.

Felix Rosenqvist backed up his pole at Texas by getting into the Fast Six. He has always been a decent qualifier, but he seems to have become a very good qualifier. Rosenqvist needs to get some good race results.

Will Power and Scott McLaughlin have their worst starting positions of the year, seventh and ninth. Power is still in search of four more poles to tie Mario Andretti for career poles. He won just one pole last year.

Keep an eye on Marcus Ericsson. He fell to eighth today. I thought he had a shot at the pole. Ericsson is still on a roll from his two wins in 2021. He may be a factor in the race.

Kyle Kirkwood advanced to round two. Kirkwood has qualified decently and raced very well. He has gotten the most out of the 14 car. A lot of the car’s improvement is a credit to Kirkwood’s talent. I wonder how much of a contribution Sebastien Bourdais made to the team last year. I’m guessing he also has a lot to do with Kirkwood’s performance.

What happened to the Meyer Shank cars? Simon Pagenaud led Friday’s practice and was strong in this morning’s session. Helio Castroneves looked as if he might also be in the mix. Pagenaud will start 10th and Castroneves 14th.

The Andretti team had a very good day, perhaps its best of the season, but still it could have been much better. Romain Grosjean was on track to win the pole until he stuffed into the tires. Alexander Rossi was caught out by the red flag, then had to take the runoff route on the final timed lap. They are still the team to beat and have the potential to have three cars in the top five tomorrow.

Pato O’Ward has been my biggest disappointment this season. Two poor finishes, badly executed pit stops, and mediocre qualifying is not the mark of someone expected to compete for the championship. He can get a decent result from his 11th starting position, and he needs a top 10 finish.

Jimmie Johnson plans to race to race tomorrow in spite of his fractured hand. His incidents today in practice and qualifying seemed to stem from the injury. I assume a final decision will come after the morning warmup. It might be in his best interests to sit out the race, The irony is that Johnson didn’t run ovals last season because he was concerned about injuries. He sustains an injury on a street course.

Eleven drivers beat the old track record which had stood since 2017. Five drivers had laps in the 1:05 range. I believe Romain Grosjean was also in that time frame, but his times were erased with the red flag.

Look for my Sunday preview tomorrow morning. Thanks for following along this weekend.