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Kirkwood Triumphs at Long Beach: Rookie Grabs Maiden IndyCar Pole Position



Kirkwood Long Beach IndyCar 2023

In a thrilling turn of events at Long Beach, rising star Kyle Kirkwood defied expectations to clinch his first IndyCar pole position for Andretti Autosport. He outperformed seasoned veterans and former Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean in a nail-biting showdown.

Kyle Kirkwood secured his first IndyCar pole position for Andretti Autosport, outperforming former Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean in a close contest at Long Beach.

Although championship leader Pato O’Ward from Arrow McLaren had been the favorite for pole position after leading both practice sessions, a lock-up at Turn 9 cost him time and he ran out of fuel for another lap attempt.

Shortly after, Kirkwood outpaced his Andretti teammate Grosjean by two-tenths and returned to the pits, anticipating his debut pole. Ericsson, however, kept the suspense alive until the final corner, trailing Kirkwood by a mere 0.0375 seconds and maintaining his impressive street qualifying record.

After a tumultuous season with multiple crashes, Kirkwood’s pole win validates Andretti’s confidence in him. This marks Andretti’s second consecutive street pole following Grosjean’s victory at St Pete, with the Frenchman being the first to congratulate Kirkwood on his successful lap.

Ericsson secured second place on used tires, outpacing Grosjean, 2021 champion Alex Palou, Scott Dixon, and O’Ward. Marcus Armstrong, driving the fourth Ganassi car, returned after missing the Texas race but crashed during the session, leading to a one-lap showdown for the top 12 contenders to advance to the Fast Six pole shootout.

This resulted in some late surprises, with Grosjean, Dixon, and Ericsson moving up to the top six at the expense of previous year’s winner Colton Herta, Josef Newgarden, and Felix Rosenqvist. Newgarden will start in eighth place, followed by Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin, who expressed frustration with his bad luck in traffic.


Rosenqvist will start in 10th position, ahead of two-time winner and new Arrow McLaren driver Alexander Rossi in 11th. Defending champion Will Power will start in 13th place after narrowly missing the cut in Group 1 by 0.0067 seconds.

David Malukas was the first to fall in the group stages, crashing at Turn 9. He stated that he had a slight headache and would be monitored by medical staff but believed he would be cleared to race after further evaluation. Malukas is expected to start in 25th place and is currently sixth in points.

Kirkwood Long Beach IndyCar

Callum Ilott, who is seventh in points, had a difficult Saturday, crashing in practice and later placing 22nd in qualifying. His teammate Agustin Canapino, 12th in points, is slated to start in 26th place.

Here’s the starting grid for the race, showcasing each driver’s position, team, and engine:

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