Less than 24 hours after securing his maiden NTT IndyCar Series victory at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Josef Newgarden stormed to his first pole position at the venue when the grid was set for the conclusion of the 2019 Detroit doubleheader.
With Saturday’s qualifying groups reversed, Race 1 pole sitter Alexander Rossi was a member of Group 1 and faced a totally clean track in the day’s opening session after a night of heavy rain.
Andretti Autosport’s 2018 championship contender lapped the temporary street circuit in 1:15.1825 Sunday morning to lead Group 1, locking in a front-row start and a shot at the pole, if the top lap from the second group was slower than his.
A 46-minute red-flag period began moments after the second 12-minute session went green when water that collected in the Turn 6 tire barrier overnight spilled into the racing line. The AMR INDYCAR Safety Team diligently dried the surface and INDYCAR promised the clock would be reset and Group 2 would last the full 12 minutes.
After the long delay, Race 1 winner Newgarden and 10 other drivers took the track for their qualifying outing with the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet surfacing atop the running order with a 1:14.8607.
More than four-tenths of a second up on Zach Veach who went second fastest in Group 2, Newgarden’s pace around Belle Isle was 0.3218 seconds quicker than Rossi’s, switching their Race 1 starting positions for Sunday’s contest.
Colton Herta matched his best IndyCar starting position of fourth for his third time and will share Row 2 with Zach Veach whose fourth-place qualifying effort marks his best in the series.
James Hinchcliffe and Saturday crasher Scott Dixon earned spots on the third row and will take the green flag just ahead of rookies Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing and Carlin.
With Newgarden’s group filed into the odd-numbered grid positions and Sebastien Bourdais placing fifth in the session, the Dale Coyne Racing veteran will start ninth, on the inside of Spencer Pigot.
Last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud will start 14th, three positions ahead of Will Power who seeks a better race than his complicated Saturday outing.
Marco Andretti also left the track frustrated on day two of the overall Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend when his unique strategy failed due to a unique Race Control decision. He’ll start Race 2 in 19th.
With the stage set for the end of IndyCar’s annual visit to the Motor City, engines will be fired at 3:43 p.m. EDT Sunday ahead of the 3:50 p.m. green flag. Unlike on Saturday, inclement weather and a timed race are not forecasted.