IndyCar Indy road course starting lineup: Graham Rahal on first pole position since 2017

IndyCar: Gallagher Grand Prix Qualifying
IndyCar: Gallagher Grand Prix Qualifying

INDIANAPOLIS — Graham Rahal's latest chapter at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was exponentially happier than his last.

That tends to be how things unfold at the Brickyard, where wild mood swings and dramatic twists have been at the core of the fabled 2.5-mile speedway's allure for more than a century.

"I don't know what it is about Indy, but we all talk about it as a living being, that it kind of writes its own story," Rahal said after qualifying first for the Gallagher Grand Prix. "I say it every year: In this large book that's gone on a hundred-plus years now, a lot of people have had the chance to have their chapter. Some people like Helio (Castroneves) have several in the book. You just hope it's your time."

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for Indy Gallagher Grand Prix qualifying speeds | Round 1, Group 1 | Round 1, Group 2 | Round 2 l Round 3

INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS ROAD COURSE: Schedule, details for watching on USA, Peacock

Capturing his first pole position since June 2017 at Detroit, Rahal and teammate Christian Lundgaard swept the front row for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing after the team's disastrous Indy 500.

Rahal failed to qualify after being bumped by RLL teammate Jack Harvey. The debacle prompted personnel changes amid some sleepless nights and massive soul-searching for Bobby Rahal, the team co-owner and Graham's father.

Friday's qualifying session on the 2.439-mile road course was the latest sign of a turnaround at RLL. Lundgaard scored his first IndyCar career victory from the pole position last month at Toronto, while Graham Rahal qualified second at Mid-Ohio.

"Clearly this weekend is very different than the 500, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't carry a lot of significance and importance to our team and to me personally, " Rahal said. "I've seen plenty of the hate, plenty of the can't do it, can't compete with the kids, can't whatever.

"To be able to silence some of that, and I thought we did a bit at Mid-Ohio, but it's nice to see a good step forward finally in the car the way I want it to drive. It's starting to come together. The mystique of Indy and the things that happen and all of that are alive and well, but the reality is we still had to make it happen. We've done a pretty good job so far. ... You look at Indy next year, for the team I guarantee you see a vastly, vastly different Rahal Letterman Lanigan at the '24 Indy 500 than what you saw this year.

"As sad as it was what happened in May, in some ways, it was a blessing. It had to happen for the team to wake up, for us to focus on doing the right things and make a big difference for May. I think as bad as May was, we accomplished that goal. I think you'll see a very different team next year."

But it could have a familiar face in Rahal, who is likely to return for his 12th consecutive season with the team after weighing whether to join another team or retire.

"It's still a work in progress," Rahal said of his future. "Nothing's signed; nothing's changed. My intentions are to stay. We've got an extremely, extremely good core group of sponsors, I think better than anybody else in the series. That's growing for next year. There's no intentions to swap. I have talked to other (teams), but that doesn't mean that I'm one foot out the door.

"Everybody knows this: I wanted to not only evaluate where the team stands but myself. I think it's important to take a step back, look in the mirror, figure out where do I want to go? What do I want to do? Qualifying on pole helps those decisions, for sure, knowing that you can still do it. A win tomorrow would make it even sweeter.

"At the end of the day I think a lot of people just assume I'm going to retire at some stage soon. I'm only 34. I know I've been here for a hundred years, but I still feel like I've got a little while left. ... It's nice to have a reminder that you belong, for sure."

Lundgaard, who qualified on pole at the Indy road course in May and finished second here a year ago, expects his teammate will be stiff competition in Saturday's 85-lap race.

"I know that Graham will be tough to beat," he said. "We'll have to beat him by just outsmarting him. How we're going to do that is something I'll have to figure out really. But we're definitely going to race hard and race fair. I'm not going to say he will be favored, because I don't think he will be, because I'll give him a tough time."

The Fast Six final round of qualifying featured three groups of two with Arrow McLaren (Alexander Rossi, Pato O'Ward) taking the second row, and the third belonging to Andretti Autosport (Romain Grosejan and Devlin Defrancesco in a career-best fifth).

Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske both failed to put a car in the final round. Josef Newgarden and Will Power (a five-time winner on the Indy road course) were among the surprises who failed to advance from the first round (along with Kyle Kirkwood, Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson).

“Frustrating day for all of Team Penske," said Newgarden, who also lost the final 10 minutes of practice after missing a weigh-in. "It has been a strange year for us when it comes to qualifying. I’m sure we will have good pace tomorrow, and hopefully, we can catch a break with a caution or two to get some track position.

"We just need to be a better hold on qualifying moving forward, particularly over the offseason. It’s something we’ve been working on, but we still need to keep improving.”

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Saturday's Gallagher Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, a 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course in Indianapolis (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed):


1. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:10.1132 (125.232 mph)
2. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:10.2286 (125.026)


3. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 01:10.2932 (124.911)
4. (5) Pato O'Ward, Chevrolet, 01:10.3453 (124.819)


5. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:10.3938 (124.733)
6. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:10.4021 (124.718)


7. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 01:10.2106 (125.058)
8. (30) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:10.2228 (125.036)


9. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:10.2974 (124.904)
10. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:10.4389 (124.653)


11. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:10.4782 (124.583)
12. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:10.5207 (124.508)


13. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:10.4398 (124.651)
14. (60) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, 01:10.4570 (124.621)


15. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 01:10.4869 (124.568)
16. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:10.5006 (124.544)


17. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:10.5237 (124.503)
18. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:10.6348 (124.307)

ROW 10

19. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:10.6150 (124.342)
20. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:10.7249 (124.149)

ROW 11

21. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 01:10.6461 (124.287)
22. (20) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Chevrolet, 01:11.0083 (123.653)

ROW 12

23. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:10.8687 (123.897)
24. (78) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 01:11.0611 (123.561)

ROW 13

25. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 01:11.5658 (122.690)
26. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:11.1027 (123.489)

ROW 14

27. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 01:11.2971 (123.152)