Palou comes on strong to snatch pole at Laguna Seca

Alex Palou left his rivals breathless in the Fast Six battle to claim pole for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

He delivered a 1m07.1465s lap on his first flyer on used alternates, his lap time equating to 119.988mph around the 2.238-mile course. It’s the two-time and reigning IndyCar champion’s fifth career pole and second of the season.

His closest challenger, in fact falling only 0.0739s short, was Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood, whose teammate Colton Herta was fourth. This pair was split by Felix Rosenqvist, excelling in the Meyer Shank Racing Honda, and himself only 0.1452 slower than Palou.


The sole Chevrolet representative in the first three rows is Alexander Rossi, who did just enough on his final flyer to edge the impressive Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan.

Scott McLaughlin will start seventh, after being knocked out of the Fast Six by a late flyer from Rossi, and because he had a slight slide exiting Turn 6. He will start alongside Romain Grosjean who was an encouraging eighth for Juncos Hollinger Racing, but was disappointed at being backed up by his rivals trying to make space for themselves on track. He was convinced he had a potential pole-winning car.

Pato O’Ward’s rollercoaster weekend continued with a ninth place in the second McLaren, ahead of Scott Dixon, who was kicking himself for giving up a tenth or two in a couple of corners. However, given how difficult his Friday practice had been, this was a decent recovery. His young teammate Marcus Armstrong will start 11th.

The happy surprise of the session was David Malukas, making his first start of the season. He escaped Q1 and in Group 2, despite being rusty and his wrist still not fully recovered, he was only 0.5s slower than teammate Felix Rosenqvist.

Surprisingly, considering the pace they had shown in practice, Team Penske drivers Will Power and Josef Newgarden were eliminated in their respective Q1 groups, each blaming themselves for underperforming. They will line up 15th and 14th respectively, behind Agustin Canapino in the second Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevy. Santino Ferrucci of AJ Foyt Racing was a respectable 17th ahead of winners such as Andretti’s Marcus Ericsson and RLL’s Graham Rahal, neither of whom could find a good balance on their alternate tires.

Nolan Siegel, the rookie starting his first race for Arrow McLaren, was the only driver to head out on the Firestone alternates from the very start of the Q1 Group 1 session, and he did well to get within a second of teammate Rossi, but he will start 23rd.


Story originally appeared on Racer