Photo: Romain grosjean hug chief mechanic Olivier Boisson after winning the pole. Photo by Mike Silver
Romain Grosjean leaping from his burning car in Bahrain is finally put away. Grosjean won the pole for tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He did not win the pole by default. Grosjean had to hold off two time series champion and multiple pole winner Josef Newgarden to achieve the top spot for the race. The pole is just the third all time for Dale Coyne racing and the first on a natural road course. Sebastien Bourdais won a pole on the oval at Phoenix in 2018. Mike Conway took the pole for Detroit Race 2 in 2016.
In a qualifying session which saw points leaders Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward struggle and pokle master Will Power cause a red flag in Round 2, Grosjean joined three other fast six newcomers- Conor Daly, Alex Palou, and Scott McLaughlin to fight for the pole along with Jack harvey and Newgarden.
“Amazing,” Grosjean said. “When I saw the (first qualifying) group I was in, I was like, ‘Oh, dear, if we can get out of the first group, we’re going to be OK,’ and we did. That last few laps, we were on it. What a day for us.
“I’m happier than I have been in a very long time.”
In the only other natural road course run this year, at Barber, Grojean started 10th and finished seventh. His getting to the Fast Six wasn’t much of a shock, but earning the pole was.
Notes on a Strange Day
The wierdness wasn’t reserved for qualifying. The practice sessions had some odd happenings as well. In session 1, Alex Palou’s team discovered a water leak before he got on the track. Palou missed the entire session. Palou bounced back to get in the Fast Six.
During the first practice we learned that Max Chilton and Carlin Racing withdrew from this weekend. Chilton was unable to return from England because of a travel issue. Today’s issue has no effect on their 500 entry.
Scott Dixon developed a clutch issue during the afternoon practice, Unlike Palou, he did not recover in qualifying and will start 16th. two spots ahead of Pato O’Ward. Dixon and O’Ward are first and second in points. Newgarden and Palou,, third and fourth in points, start second and fourth.
Juan Pablo Montoya looked quite uncomfortable in the third Arrow McLaren SP entry. He struggled to get the car through the final turns.
Conor Daly made the Fast Six for the first time. It has been a long time since Ed Carpenter racing has been in the Fast Six.
Newgarden and Palou were the only members of the Fast Six who have won a race. The series is on about as level a playing field as it has ever been.
Team Penske still does not have a pole this season.
A. J. Foyt Racing had a promising beginning to the season. All thee cars will start 20th or worse tomorrow.