Alexander Rossi took his second career IndyCar pole position on the streets of Long Beach, lapping almost four tenths of a second quicker than his nearest rival to dominate the session
Rossi had looked fast in free practice, topping practice sessions two and three and carried that form over into qualifying. He looked ominous in both group sessions and the fast twelve, and asserted his dominance with a laptime of 1:06:5528. He had been on course to win the event last year before late race mechanical failure put an end to his chances. He lined up ahead of Will Power, who had a brush with the wall during his qualifying run as all three Penske’s made the fast six. Simon Pagenaud was third and Josef Newgarden could have usurped both his teammates, but a hard hit against the wall towards the end of the lap broke his left rear suspension and he will roll off sixth for the race.
Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal made up the rest of the fast six, Dixon starting fourth and Rahal fifth, a stark contrast to his teammate Takuma Sato who starts 22nd out of 24 cars. The Andretti team could well have had two cars in the top six. Ryan Hunter-Reay was looking good to fight Rossi for pole, but a penalty in the fast twelve followed by a scruffy end to his fast lap ruined his chances, and he will line up seventh. James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais and Robert Wickens completed the top ten, Wickens also damaging his suspension with his run in the fast twelve, but both Schmidt Peterson cars showing good form in qualifying after a tricky practice session. Hinchcliffe is aiming for his second consecutive win at Long Beach, taking a hugely popular and emotional victory last year.
Several other drivers had strong runs in qualifying, including Max Chilton who will start 15th for Carlin as they slowly improve and adjust to the IndyCar series. Jordan King also had a solid day, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver will roll off 12th, having starred in the first race of the year when he was challenging for victory for a puncture. Juncos driver Kyle Kaiser will start last with no time set, another driver to hit the wall and break his suspension.
Feature Image Credit: Verizon IndyCar Media Site