Photo: Walter G. Arce Sr./ASP, Inc.

Alexander Rossi Claims Pole at Wet Belle Isle

By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor

DETROIT – Alexander Rossi will lead the Verizon IndyCar Series field to the green in Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix after laying down the fastest lap in a wet morning qualifying session.

Rossi’s quick time of 1:33.3143 served as the top circuit in Group 2, elevating the Californian to his third-career IndyCar pole. Andretti Autosport swept the weekend’s two qualifying sessions, with Marco Andretti securing the pole for Saturday’s first IndyCar race.

Following Rossi in Group 2 were Indianapolis 500 champion Will Power, Saturday winner Scott Dixon, Zach Veach and Graham Rahal. They’ll start in the odd-numbered positions of the top 10 as a result of Rossi’s pole run.

Completing the group with Jordan King, Santino Ferrucci, Spencer Pigot, Max Chilton, Josef Newgarden and Charlie Kimball.

Robert Wickens will join Rossi on the front row after leading Group 1 with a time of 1:33.6605. Both Wickens and Rossi gained a championship point for their efforts.

Following Wickens in Group 1 were Ed Jones, James Hinchcliffe, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Gabby Chaves, Sebastien Bourdais, Matheus Leist, Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan and Rene Binder.

While the two group sessions lasted just 12 minutes apiece, the treacherous wet conditions of the Belle Isle Park circuit led to numerous issues throughout the field.

Kanaan was the first to find issue, spinning and damaging his No. 14 before he could complete a lap in Group 1. The Brazilian was eliminated from the session for bringing out a red flag, but he’ll start ahead of Binder – who elected not to participate in qualifying – due to his advantage over the rookie in the championship standings.

Hunter-Reay set what could have been the second-quickest time in Group 1 after a brief trip to the runoff area, but the 2012 IndyCar champion’s best lap was disallowed after a spin late in the session that impeded the progress of one of his competitors.

Bourdais also ended up in the runoff area late in his qualifying run, though he did so without damaging his car, impeding a competitor or forcing a red flag.

Newgarden was the lone driver to suffer a serious issue in Group 2. The defending champion stuffed his No. 1 Chevrolet in the tire barrier with three minutes remaining, forcing a red flag that ultimately ended the session. The Tennessean had his two fastest laps disallowed as a result of the crash.

Coverage for Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix is slated to begin on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Starting Lineup

  1. Alexander Rossi
  2. Robert Wickens
  3. Will Power
  4. Ed Jones
  5. Scott Dixon
  6. James Hinchcliffe
  7. Zach Veach
  8. Simon Pagenaud
  9. Graham Rahal
  10. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  11. Jordan King
  12. Marco Andretti
  13. Santino Ferrucci
  14. Gabby Chaves
  15. Spencer Pigot
  16. Sebastien Bourdais
  17. Max Chilton
  18. Matheus Leist
  19. Josef Newgarden
  20. Takuma Sato
  21. Charlie Kimball
  22. Tony Kanaan
  23. Rene Binder

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.