For the second straight race this season, 26-year-old Alex Palou will lead the NTT IndyCar Series to the green flag.
The No. 10 Honda won the NTT P1 Award Saturday around the new 1.645-mile street circuit in downtown Detroit, Michigan.
Palou’s best lap in the Firestone Fast Six stage of Saturday’s qualification process was a 61.8592-second lap navigating the complex around the General Motors headquarters. His Honda-powered Ridgeline Lubricants Chip Ganassi Racing machine was three-tenths of a second faster than the next driver in the Fast Six shootout.
Alabama Grand Prix winner Scott McLaughlin starts alongside the Spaniard on the front row with his Team Penske Gallagher No. 3 Chevrolet lining up in second-place. McLaughlin, a former street race winner at St. Petersburg, will start just ahead of Romain Grosjean, where the two notably clashed in this year’s St. Pete Grand Prix and duked for the win in Alabama.
Grosjean’s third-place qualifying result matches his worst performance in day two of a street course weekend through the first three editions this season. The No. 28 DHL Honda shares row two with six-time series champion Scott Dixon, who won the 2022 Music City Grand Prix in Nashville. This new-for-2023 layout of the Detroit Grand Prix has numerous times been compared to the “chaotic” design used in the Tennessee August race. Consensus from the paddock this weekend seems to match the “Crashville” energy circulating that event the prior two seasons, while some are anticipating more track-blocking wrecks than what’s taken place in the Music City events and St. Pete’s race this season.
Last week’s champion of the 107th Indianapolis 500, Josef Newgarden, advanced to his first Fast Six session of 2023 today. His Team Penske Hitachi No. 2 Chevy ran a 62.5223-second lap, qualifying in the fifth-position. The man he narrowly beat for the the biggest win in his career last Sunday, Marcus Ericsson will share row three with the American driver. Ericsson, the Swedish pilot of the Huski Ice Spritz Chip Ganassi Racing No. 8, completed a fastest lap of 62.6184-seconds. Much of Ericsson’s IndyCar success has come on public roads, including his maiden career victory on Belle Isle in the Detroit River two seasons ago, the inaugural Music City GP and this year’s season opening event at St. Pete.
Off his first ever failure to finish in his Indianapolis 500 career, Simon Pagenaud’s qualifying effort Saturday easily became his best on the season. The Meyer Shank Racing No. 60 will grid in the eighth position, after his previous best of 14th in Long Beach.
Long Beach Grand Prix winner Kyle Kirkwood has continued to keep his street course pace into this weekend with his Andretti Autosport AutoNation No. 27 group, however, failed to advance out of Round 2 of qualifying after knocking the left front suspension into one of the many concrete barriers placed around the course. The contact resulted in a punctured tire and the Florida native lines up in the 12th-position for Sunday.
His Andretti teammates of Devlin DeFrancesco and Colton Herta also found the retaining walls throughout the day. In the case for the Canadian-Italian driver of the No. 29 Steinbrenner co-entry, DeFrancesco made his heavy damage in the morning practice session, and the team trashed to get out for the 1:20pm session. The No. 29 did, and lines up the 17th-best tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Gainbridge No. 26 found the inside wall before colliding into the outside wall. As a result, Colton Herta did not post a competitive lap and starts 24th.
Christian Lundgaard also found the wall during the opening round and failed to continue. He starts 18th.
The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix starts Sunday, June 4th at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. The green flag is expected just after 3:30.
Qualifying Results – Chevrolet Detroit GP
1 – (10) Alex Palou / 61.8592-seconds; 4th Career NTT P1 Award
2 – (3) Scott McLaughlin / 62.159
3 – (28) Romain Grosjean / 62.289
4 – (9) Scott Dixon / 62.427
5 – (2 ) Josef Newgarden / 62.522
6 – (8) Marcus Ericsson / 62.618
7 – (12) Will Power / 62.181
8 – (60) Simon Pageanud / 62.186
9 – (6) Felix Rosenqvist / 62.193
10 – (5) Pato O’Ward / 62.256
11 – (11) Marcus Armstrong [R] / 62.295
12 – (27) Kyle Kirkwood / 64.607
13 – (7) Alexander Rossi / 62.571
14 – (21) Rinus VeeKay / 62.191
15 – (20) Conor Daly / 62.952
16 – (77) Callum Ilott / 62.264
17 – (29) Devlin DeFrancesco / 63.001
18 – (45) Christian Lundgaard / 62.649
19 – (55) Benjamin Pedersen [R] / 63.159
20 – (78) Agustin Canapino [R] / 62.907
21 – (18) David Malukas / 63.212
22 – (14) Santino Ferrucci / 62.958
23 – (06) Helio Castroneves / 63.387
24 – (26) Colton Herta / 63.416
25 – (30) Jack Harvey / 63.772
26 – (51) Sting Ray Robb [R] / 63.749
27 – (15) Graham Rahal / 63.866