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Christian Lundgaard put the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda on the pole for Saturday’s race. (Dallas Breeze photo)

Lundgaard Lands Pole Position For GMR Grand Prix

INDIANAPOLIS — Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey gave team owners Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Michael Lanigan something positive this season.

Both drivers qualified in the top four of Friday’s qualifications for the GMR Grand Prix with Denmark’s Christian Lundgaard putting the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda on the pole for Saturday’s race. Lundgaard’s fast time of 1:09.3321 around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course led to him earning the first pole award of his career.

“What a great day to be in America,” Lundgaard radioed to his RLL crew after winning the pole.

His time withstood a late session challenge from Felix Rosenqvist of Arrow McLaren, who ran a lap at 1:09.3348 in the No. 6 Chevrolet.

“The Arrow McLaren cars are super good and Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi were up there as well,” Rosenqvist said. “I went for it. It was all or nothing. Big congrats for Christian. I’ve been on pole here a couple of times and it has never really worked out so hopefully P2 will be better.”

Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi was third at 1:09.3780 in the No. 10 Honda. Jack Harvey of Rahal Letterman Lanigan was fourth — his best starting position of the season — with a time at 1:09.4220 in the No. 30 Honda.

Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren was fifth at 1:09.5422 in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Autosport rounded out the Firestone “Fast Six” at 1:09.6282 in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda.

“I was hoping for this, but didn’t quite expect this,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the first NTT P1 Award of the year. Now, we have a shot at it, and we are leading the field to the green. That is where we need to be for the rest of the race. Every time we come to this course; we’ve been quick. I was confident. The last time I raced on this track I was second. We were second in practice, so we upped this by one.”

Christian Lundgaard celebrates his first career IndyCar pole. (Dallas Breeze photo)

In the first group of the first segment, very light rain began to fall early in the session, but it wasn’t enough for the teams to switch to the wets.

Lundgaard posted the fastest speed early before Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Rinus VeeKay took turns running fast laps in the final 90 seconds. Lundgaard was able to deliver by the end of that segment with a fast time of 1:09.4639. Teammate Graham Rahal was second at 1:09.5627 both in Hondas.

Felix Rosenqvist of Arrow McLaren was third in a Chevrolet at 1:09.5833 followed by Team Penske’s Will Power at 1:99.7835 and Marcus Ericsson’s 1:09.8343 in a Honda.

Missing out were Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden at 1:09.8402 in the No. 2 Chevrolet followed by Devlin DeFrancesco, Rinus VeeKay, Simon Pagenaud, Conor Daly, Benjamin Pedersen, and Augustin Canapino.

Newgarden was set to make his flying laps, but Benjamin Pedersen spun to impede his progress.

“I had to pit because I had two laps of fuel, but I can’t blow through here under yellow,” Newgarden said. “I lost so much at the start that it was irrelevant. I don’t know what to say about that one, it’s not anybody’s fault except for Benjamin’s. Wrong place; wrong time. It’s bad timing. You can’t predict that stuff. If he doesn’t spin, we are in an OK position.

“Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Three-time GMR Grand Prix winner Pagenaud will start 19th.

“We just don’t have it this weekend,” Pagenaud said.

In the second group, Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood set the early pace at 1:10.6075 ahead of Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi’s 1:10.6373. O’Ward took over the No. 1 position with 7 minutes left in the session as teams were putting in their “banker” laps before gassing it toward the end of the session.

Kirkwood regained top position late in the session before Pato O’Ward took over the top spot, then Scott Dixon, then O’Ward in a mad scramble in the closing seconds.

By the time it was over, O’Ward was the fastest at 1:09.2937 in the No. 5 Chevrolet followed by teammate Alexander Rossi at 1:09.4747. Alex Palou’s No. 10 Honda was third at 1:09.5351, Jack Harvey’s Honda at 1:09.6238, Kirkwood’s Honda at 1:09.6277 and Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Honda at 1:09.6708.

Missing the cut was defending GMR Grand Prix winner Colton Herta at 1:09.8375. Also missing out were Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, Romain Grosjean, David Malukas, Sting Ray Robb, Callum Ilott, Helio Castroneves, and Santino Ferrucci.

Last year’s GMR Grand Prix winner Colton Herta leads the field at Indianapolis. (Penske Entertainment/Chris Owens)

“We were pretty loose,” Herta said. “But we started 14th last year. We came back at Long Beach. I have a good win record from 14th. We just missed it. Just a little bit off the ball. We need to get on top of it.”

McLaughlin complained his car was “too hard” to drive.

“We missed it and on a track like this, you can’t do it,” McLaughlin said. “It’s just tight. IndyCar is so hard. That’s why you love it when things go good and hate it when things go bad.”

The second segment had Jack Harvey knocking Graham Rahal out of the moving into the Fast Six. Both are teammates at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Also missing the cut were Marcus Ericsson, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Marcus Armstrong, and three-time GMR Grand Prix winner Will Power.

“We are always traditionally very solid here and Christian and Jack have had wonderful days here already,” Graham Rahal said. “I guess I lost it in Turn 9. Man, is this not the most competitive motorsport in the world? We have a good starting spot for this race. This is a good place for us to start.”

Ericsson missed advancing by less than three-one hundredths of a second.

“Seventh for me is still a pretty good starting spot,” Ericsson said.

Making it into the Fast Six were Palou at 1:09.2082, Lundgaard at 1:09.2282, O’Ward at 1:09.3405, Rosenqvist at 1:09.3604, Harvey at 1:09.3767 and Kirkwood at 1:09.4131.