Indycar Photo
Felix Rosenqvist earned his sixth career pole award during Long Beach qualifying. (Al Steinberg photo)

Rosenqvist Brings Meyer Shank First IndyCar Pole

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Felix Rosenqvist went up against the best pole qualifier in IndyCar Series history and won.

The driver from Sweden was able to hold off IndyCar’s all-time pole winner Will Power during qualifying for the 49th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday to give Meyer Shank Racing its first-ever NTT IndyCar Series pole.

Although Rosenqvist finished first in his group at the $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club on March 24, that was an exhibition race and did not count for career standings.

“I had a big tank slapper in Turn 5, but was able to come back,” Rosenqvist said of his fast lap that earned him his sixth career IndyCar Pole. “Huge respect for Will Power. That doesn’t come easily. The big question is how to win from there on Sunday. We’ll take advantage of that. I have a good feeling about this car.”

Rosenqvist’s fast lap was in the No. 60 Sirius XM Honda was 1:06.0172 around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course that makes up North America’s greatest street race.

Power, who has 70 career IndyCar Series poles, was the final driver on the track that had a shot at claiming the pole but fell short at 1:06.0211 in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet for Team Penske.

The difference was 39 ten-thousandths-of-a-second.

“Yeah, that’s the story of my life lately,” Power said to his crew. “I’ll take a Top Six actually, to get in the Fast Six again is a big deal to me. I’m super stoked to transfer. I couldn’t pick anywhere where I made a mistake. To get the Verizon car in the front row again is a big deal.”

Power is a two-time winner of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with victories in 2008 and 2012.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was third in the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet at 1:06.1059. Colton Herta of Andretti Global was fourth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda at 1:06.3784 followed by teammate Marcus Ericsson’s 1:06.4039 in the No. 28 Honda.

Two-time NTT IndyCar Series Alex Palou rounded out the “Fast Six” at 1:06.5444 in the No. 10 DHL Honda.

Palou was the fastest driver in the Round of 12 that advanced into the Firestone Fast Six with a best time of 1:05.9103. He was followed by Herta’s 1:06.0064, Newgarden’s 1:06.0179, Ericsson’s 1:06.0546, Rosenqvist’s 1:06.0674 and Power’s 1:06.1914.

Unable to advance were Christian Lundgaard’s No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda at 1:06.2107, Scott Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda at 1:06.2219, Marcus Armstrong’s Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:06.2404, defending race winner Kyle Kirkwood’s No. 27 Honda at 1:06.2672, Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin’s No. 2 Chevrolet at 1:06.3504 and Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Honda from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing at 1:06.5757.

“I was happy with it, but it’s tight in this series,” Kirkwood said. “I was stuck in dirty air at the end of that last lap. I lost a little bit of time and was disappointed with that. It’s going to be hard, no matter where you are starting. Hopefully, we can take it to the front.”

Prior to that, Rosenqvist was the fastest driver in the first group in Segment One with a lap at 1:06.3372 in the No. 60 Honda. Herta was second at 1:06.5245 followed by Dixon’s 1:06.5941, Power’s 1:06.6388, Palou’s 1:06.7243 and Rahal’s 1:06.7910.

Missing the cut were two-time Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi at 1:06.8349 in the No. 7 Chevrolet for Arrow McLaren. He was followed by Tom Blomqvist’s 1:07.0325, Linus Lundqvist’s 1:07.1022, Pietro Fittipaldi’s 1:07.1284, Christian Rasmussen’s 1:07.3332, Jack Harvey’s 1:07.6865 and Sting Ray Robb’s 1:09.5850.

Armstrong paced the second group of the first segment at 1:06.1509 in the No. 11 Honda at 1:06.1509 followed by Andretti Global’s Ericsson at 1:06.1768, Kirkwood’s 1:06.2285, McLaughlin’s 1:06.2786, Lundgaard’s 1:06.3587 and Newgarden’s 1:06.4123.

Missing the cut was Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, the fastest driver in Friday’s practice session.

O’Ward’s time was 1:06.4572.

“I wasn’t unhappy about it, we were just slow,” O’Ward said. “Just not fast enough. No real explanation for that. We went the wrong way and missed the window a little bit. I wasn’t unhappy with the car; we just weren’t fast enough. Yeah, disappointing.”

O’Ward was followed by Romain Grosjean’s 1:06.4706, Agustin Canapino’s 1:06.4982, Rinus VeeKay’s 1:06.7415, rookie Theo Pourchaire’s 1:06.9722, Santino Ferrucci’s 1:07.1851, Kyffin Simpson’s 1:07.3125 and Nolan Siegel’s 1:07.5848.