Romain Grosjean captures first career IndyCar pole position for the GMR Grand Prix

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Romain Grosjean, six months removed from a fiery crash in Formula One that nearly killed him, won the pole position for his third career NTT IndyCar Series start, qualifying first for the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Grosjean, who raced for a decade in F1 without a victory, outqualified two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden on the 14-turn, 2.39-mile road course at IMS to earn the top starting spot Friday in his No. 51 Dallara-Honda for Dale Coyne Racing/Rick Ware Racing.

It was the Frenchman’s first pole position in more than 10 years. When he leads the field to green Saturday, it’ll be the first time he’ll be at the front of a rolling start in his major-league racing career.

“That feeling, whoa!” Grosjean told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “I forgot what it was. … the last few laps, I was on it.”

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QUALIFYING RESULTS: Full field rundown

INDYCAR SATURDAY: How to watch the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Said car owner Dale Coyne: “We knew he could win races. We knew he could win poles. He’s proving it today.”

Newgarden qualified second, followed by Jack Harvey, Alex Palou, rookie Scott McLaughlin and Conor Daly, who made the Fast Six in knockout qualifying for the first time in his career as several title contenders struggled in the first two rounds Friday.

Will Power, Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon all were eliminated after the second round.

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Power failed to advance after spinning and then stalling on course, bringing out a red flag that knocked out his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet. The 2018 Indy 500 winner threw his HANS device upon reaching his team’s timing stand, yelling “There’s no way he’s running the same (expletive) aero balance. No (expletive) way!” at his engineers.

Power failed to make the Fast Six for only the second time in 10 starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. After a minute to cool off, he took the blame in an interview with NBC Sports’ Marty Snider.

“I made a mistake,” said Power, a road and street course ace who was eliminated after the first round at Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg last month. “Drove in with such a loose car, made a mistake. I would have been fine (but I) just stalled. Having trouble with the clutch, stalled, very frustrating. We could have driven back to the pits and been fine. Unfortunately, I cause a red and can’t continue. At least we’re 12th. That’s better than St. Pete 20th.

“I was very mad, yeah. Just so crazy how the car can change so much session to session. It’s the second race on a road course we’ve had this. I think we would have been OK had I not made a mistake. So frustrated at myself.”

Rossi also was flummoxed by his lap after leading the morning practice.

“Trying to figure it out; I honestly don’t know,” the Andretti Autosport driver said when asked by told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee why he lost speed. “Got a lot looser that time, so I’m kind of stumped. We’ll have to look into it. The second (round) went slower than the first session. A lot of confusing things.”

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Juan Pablo Montoya, who will be making his first IndyCar start in nearly four years, qualified last after his fastest two laps were tossed out because the IndyCar stewards ruled he interfered with Palou.

Otherwise, the slowest lap would have belonged to Jimmie Johnson in Group 1. The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion had an adventurous session, needing an escape route off the course after being unable to slow down his No. 48 Dallara-Honda to make the Turn 1 corner.

“The peak of grip is so small, and that was the lap I needed to put everything together on, and I just outbroke myself,” Johnson told Lee. “So lesson’s learned, and it’s so tough to figure out where to be aggressive and how to increase each lap, but I’ll file that away. I’ve got 85 laps in the race tomorrow, plus the warmup. Just keep filing away everything that I can.”

Other notables who failed to advance from Group 1: Felix Rosenqvist, Marcus Ericsson, Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Charlie Kimball.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for the full rundown

ROUND BY ROUND: Group 1 l Group 2 l Round 2 l Fast Six

Romain Grosjean captures first career IndyCar pole position for the GMR Grand Prix originally appeared on NBCSports.com