Kirkwood Triumphs at Long Beach: Rookie Grabs Maiden IndyCar Pole Position
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.
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:
POS DRIVER TEAM ENGINE 1 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Honda 2 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 3 Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Honda 4 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 5 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 6 Pato O’Ward Arrow McLaren Chevrolet 7 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Honda 8 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Chevrolet 9 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Chevrolet 10 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren Chevrolet 11 Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren Chevrolet 12 Marcus Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing Honda 13 Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet 14 Simon Pagenaud Meyer Shank Racing Honda 15 Jack Harvey Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 16 Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Honda 17 Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 18 Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet 19 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet 20 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Autosport Honda 21 Sting Ray Robb Dale Coyne Racing Honda 22 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet 23 Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet 24 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda 25 David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing Honda 26 Agustin Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet 27 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- MORE INDYCAR!
- Newgarden dominates enthralling race to clinch second consecutive victory at Texas Motor Speedway
- Also make sure you follow us on social media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram for all the latest updates between issues.