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Grosjean secures sensational IndyCar pole as Andretti dominates front row in St. Petersburg



Grosjean IndyCar pole Petersburg

The 2023 IndyCar season kicked off in St. Petersburg, Florida, with an exhilarating qualifying session that saw former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean secure his second pole position in the series.

Romain Grosjean secured his second pole position in IndyCar while Andretti Autosport dominated the front row in St. Petersburg with three of its four cars contending for the top spot. Colton Herta claimed the second spot, resulting in a complete front row lockout by the team.

Andretti Autosport’s performance has been impressive, especially after a disappointing 2022 season that extended their wait for another IndyCar title to a decade. Their strong showing in pre-season testing and practice in St. Pete continued into the competitive session, showcasing their competitiveness on the leaderboard.

During the off-season, Grosjean learned to fly and even landed his plane close to the St. Petersburg circuit earlier in the week. In the first group of flying laps, he topped the leaderboard and despite Herta’s expertise on street courses, Grosjean managed to hold on and set an impressive lap time of 59.5532s.

Herta finished in second place, lagging behind by a significant 0.4155s. Grosjean’s children greeted him with hugs in the pit lane as he excitedly gave an interview after the session.

Meanwhile, Herta expressed disappointment with his performance, humorously stating that he was as useful as “gum on a boot heel.”

Pato O’Ward claimed the third spot in the session, with all three of Arrow McLaren’s cars featuring in the top 12 – an improvement from last year when they had only two cars. Alexander Rossi joined the team this year, contributing to their strong performance at the event where they struggled in the previous year. O’Ward expressed excitement for the race, buoyed by his qualifying pace.


Marcus Ericsson finished in fourth place. The whole Ganassi team had focused heavily on qualifying and all four of their cars made it to the top 13. Ericsson’s performance was hindered by a lack of fresh softs for the Fast Six, which his competitors had access to.

A new rule introduced this year allows teams to have an additional set of softs, enabling them to keep a set for the pole fight instead of using used tires during the Fast Six.

However, the Fast Six qualifying session was briefly interrupted as Kyle Kirkwood crashed the third Andretti car at Turn 13 while attempting to start his lap. Kirkwood lost control, went off-track, and collided with the outside wall, causing significant damage to the front left of his car.

Shortly after Kirkwood’s crash, Scott McLaughlin from Team Penske also lost his opportunity to defend his 2022 pole position, leaving only four cars in the running for the Fast Six. McLaughlin’s car appeared to hit the wall at Turn 10, but he continued his lap with the start-finish line located at the entry to the final turn. However, he lost control of his car at Turn 12, spun through the grass, and came to a stop at the entry to the hairpin, Turn 13.

Despite their crashes, Kirkwood and McLaughlin’s Q2 times were considered for the starting grid. Kirkwood’s time placed him in fifth position, ahead of McLaughlin, despite crashing earlier in the session.

Kirkwood’s spot in the top 12 session was almost jeopardized as he was on the verge of missing out. However, a red flag was raised due to Simon Pagenaud’s collision with the wall at Turn 4, leading to a one-lap shootout in the first qualifying group. Kirkwood excelled under pressure and secured a spot in the top 12 session.

Alex Palou had a strong qualifying session for Ganassi, finishing in seventh place alongside Ericsson’s progress. Scott Dixon, another Ganassi driver, finished in ninth place. Palou missed the cut for the Fast Six by a tiny margin of 0.0095s.


Felix Rosenqvist appeared to be the top driver for Arrow McLaren following his performance in the first qualifying segment, but he missed out on advancing to the pole fight by a narrow margin of 0.0285s.

Will Power, a former champion, expressed disappointment as he qualified in tenth place due to a gust of wind and a suboptimal race car. Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Alexander Rossi, who was making his debut for Arrow McLaren, followed closely behind in 11th and 12th place, respectively.

Marcus Armstrong was the highest-ranking rookie and will start in 13th place for Chip Ganassi Racing in his IndyCar debut.

Armstrong was on track to qualify for a top 12 spot until the red flag caused by Pagenaud, which led to a one-lap shootout. Unfortunately for Armstrong, Ericsson from the same Ganassi team surpassed him, leaving him out of contention.

Josef Newgarden was unable to advance out of his group due to several traffic issues, making him the only Penske driver not to make it to the top 12.

Agustin Canapino, who has transitioned from tin-top racing to single-seaters, performed remarkably well, qualifying in 21st place in a 27-car field for Juncos Hollinger, just 0.7s behind the best time in his group.

The results of the qualifying round for the 2023 Firestone GP of St. Petersburg.

1Romain GrosjeanAndretti AutosportHonda
2Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda
3Pato O’WardArrow McLarenChevrolet
4Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
5Kyle KirkwoodAndretti AutosportHonda
6Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevrolet
7Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda
8Felix RosenqvistArrow McLarenChevrolet
9Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
10Will PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet
11Christian LundgaardRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
12Alexander RossiArrow McLarenChevrolet
13Marcus ArmstrongChip Ganassi RacingHonda
14Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevrolet
15Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank RacingHonda
16David MalukasDale Coyne RacingHonda
17Santino FerrucciAJ Foyt RacingChevrolet
18Devlin DeFrancescoAndretti AutosportHonda
19Jack HarveyRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
20Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
21Agustin CanapinoJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet
22Callum IlottJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet
23Sting Ray RobbDale Coyne RacingHonda
24Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
25Simon PagenaudMeyer Shank RacingHonda
26Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
27Benjamin PedersenAJ Foyt RacingChevrolet

Grosjean IndyCar pole Petersburg Grosjean IndyCar pole Petersburg Grosjean IndyCar pole Petersburg Grosjean IndyCar pole Petersburg

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