Pato O’Ward captured the pole position Saturday in qualifying for Race 1 of the IndyCar Detroit GP doubleheader, turning a lap of 1 minute, 15.578 seconds.
The Arrow McLaren SP driver will lead the field to green at 2 p.m. ET on NBC with his third career pole and second this season. He also started first in the season opener at Barber Motorsports Park, where he finished fourth in the Grand Prix of Alabama.
“You need to put so much faith into this place,” O’Ward told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider following his effort. “Put faith in the car, that it’s going to stick. … When you nail a lap, you can tell you nailed it.”
O’Ward narrowly beat Alexander Rossi by .08 seconds. Rossi sat alongside O’Ward at Barber as well before finishing ninth in the race.
Dale Coyne Racing rookie Romain Grosjean, the Formula One veteran who was on pole for the last road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, qualified third.
Ed Jones will line up on the outside of Row 2 with Josef Newgarden rounding out the top five.
IndyCar drivers gauge success in qualifications by making the Firestone Fast Six.
With alterations to the qualifying procedure to accommodate a doubleheader weekend on a tight, bumpy track, those who made the Fast 12 were the fortunate few, but that meant the track was more crowded and little mistakes were amplified.
Looking to put his poor Indy 500 qualification effort behind him, Will Power pressed hard on his last lap at Belle Isle. Before making the show in the 500, he scraped the wall and kept his foot on the accelerator. It appeared the same thing might happen for the Detroit GP. On his final lap, Power kissed the wall, kept digging, and a couple of turns later made heavier contact with a tire barrier.
Power will line up seventh for Race 1 of the Detroit GP.
Points leader Alex Palou was already facing a six-spot grid penalty for an engine change at Indy, but he hoped to at least find some speed in his car. He was slow in Round 1 and failed to advance. With the grid penalty, he will start at the back of the field.
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