Graham Rahal pips McLaughlin to secure pole in Portland

Graham Rahal pips McLaughlin to secure pole in Portland

Graham Rahal beat Scott McLaughlin to secure his second straight pole position for the IndyCar road course at Portland International Raceway.

Championship contenders Scott Dixon and Alex Palou will start tomorrow’s race fourth and fifth, respectively, behind the RLL driver.

Rahal’s sprint to pole position is the most recent in a string of impressive performances on road and street courses for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, but astonishingly, only Rahal made it through to the second round of qualifying.

The RLL driver took advantage of that opportunity, though, and finished on top after clocking a time of 58.320 seconds on Portland’s compact, winding track.

He will have another chance to break his winless streak, which began at the Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix in 2017.

Scott McLaughlin, who won both his first-round group session and the second round but missed out on pole by just 33 milliseconds, sits next to Rahal in the front row. Colton Herta will start third in his quest for the year 2023’s first victory.

In the Fast Six session, only 0.069 seconds split Dixon from Ganassi teammate Palou. Palou will start in the third row on the inside, while Dixon will start on the outside of the second row.

Palou needs to leave Portland with a 54-point advantage over Dixon in the standings in order to win his second IndyCar championship.

However, the Spanish driver effectively needs a 49-point margin to Dixon in order to be declared champion simply by turning up his performance next week at Laguna Seca considering all drivers gain five points just for starting a race.

McLaren’s Pato O’Ward will line up sixth, with reigning series champion Will Power following in seventh. Callum Ilott finished eighth, which was his best grid position of the year as Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi rounded out the top 10.

Josef Newgarden and Felix Rosenqvist were unable to move on to the second round due to their individual problems. As Rosenqvist was getting ready to start his final time attack, something on his car broke, and he will start in eleventh place.

More dramatically, Newgarden raced wide in the final turn and slammed into a tyre barrier. The Penske driver, who last week lost his chance to win the championship, starts 12th after failing to record a time in round two.

A furious Romain Grosjean further back blamed traffic for his first-round elimination. He will line up 15th for what may be his final IndyCar race after learning over the weekend that he won’t be driving for Andretti Autosport in 2024.

Christian Lundgaard and rookie Juri Vips, Rahal’s teammates, could only manage positions on the grid’s ninth row.

In the meantime, Tom Blomqvist, making his first IndyCar outing since Toronto, sat in 27th and last place.

Grand Prix of Portland qualifying results

115Graham RahalRLLHonda
23Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
326Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
49Scott DixonGanassiHonda
510Alex PalouGanassiHonda
65Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
712Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
877Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
97Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
108Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
116Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
122Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
1321Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
1411Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
1528Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
1627Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
1745Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
1830Juri VipsRLLHonda
1978Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2029Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
2106Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2214Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
2318David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
2451Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
2520Ryan Hunter-ReayCarpenterChevrolet
2655Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2760Tom BlomqvistMeyer ShankHonda

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