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Rahal Speeds To IndyCar Pole

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 3 2017

Graham Rahal gave his team something to be happy about on Saturday.
(Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

RacinToday.com

Graham Rahal broke an eight-year pole position drought in style Saturday morning, setting a Raceway at Belle Isle Park track record to win the Verizon P1 Award for the first race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader.

Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Honda, scorched around the 2.35-mile/14-turn temporary street course in 1-minute, 13.9681-seconds/114.374 mph. That lap bettered the record of 1:14.0379-seconds set last year by reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske.

It is the third pole position in Rahal’s 11-year Indy car career, but first since he was the top qualifier on Kansas Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in April 2009. It also marks the first Verizon IndyCar Series pole run for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing since Scott Sharp took the honor on Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth 10 years ago.

“It’s a little uncharted territory for me the last handful of years,” said Rahal, who will share the front row with Helio Castroneves. “We’re used to having to charge from the back. This is a pretty welcomed sight.

Obviously, Helio has been a great competitor. This weekend, gone back and forth, traded blows. I thought Group 2 would get us just due to having some rubber down and stuff. Looking at the times from last year, there was a bigger spread, I think. I was hopeful that wasn’t the case. But in the end, it was very, very, very close. We were fortunate obviously that he had a little penalty there. No matter what, he’s going to start next to us. We all know he’s going to be a fierce competitor out there.

As I said (Friday), I feel strongly about my race car. I feel really good about our performance here this weekend. We’re going to go out there and try to control the pace, hit our fuel targets, if that’s something we need to do.”

Qualifying consisted of two groups receiving 12 minutes of track time each instead of the typical three rounds of knockout qualifying used at Verizon IndyCar Series street- and road-course events. Rahal established the standard in Group 1.

Castroneves clocked a lap of 1:13.8901-seconds/114.494 mph in the second group that would have won the pole. But the Team Penske ace was penalized by INDYCAR for not reducing his speed in the area of a local yellow and had his fast lap negated.

Mikhail Aleshin, driver of the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, brought out the local caution in the Turn 7 area of the course. Per Rule 7.1.3.2 of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Rule Book, drivers must decrease their speed by at least 15 percent when traveling through a local yellow area. INDYCAR stewards ruled that Castroneves did not obey the rule.

Castroneves’ next-best lap in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet of 1:14.0414-seconds was still good enough to be fastest in his group, so he will start outside Rahal on Row 1. Rahal and Castroneves each earned a championship point for being fastest in their groups.

The odd-numbered starting positions will be filled by the other cars in Rahal’s group, based on their qualifying times. The even-numbered positions in the 22-car field will be filled by those in Castroneves’ group, also based upon qualifying times.

Coverage of Saturday’s 70-lapper begins at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on ABC, WatchESPN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Qualifying for Race 2 is scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m. Sunday (RaceControl.IndyCar.com), with Race 2 coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Qualifying results Saturday for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix (Dual 1) Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.35-mile/14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit/engine, time and speed in parentheses:

  1. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:13.9681-seconds (114.374 mph) 
    2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:14.0414 (114.260)
    3. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:14.0428 (114.258)
    4. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:14.0875 (114.189)
    5. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:14.1801 (114.047)
    6. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:14.2855 (113.885)
    7. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:14.3150 (113.840)
    8. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 01:14.9991 (112.801)
    9. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:14.3805 (113.739)
    10. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 01:15.0664 (112.700)
    11. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:14.6312 (113.357)
    12. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:15.0991 (112.651)
    13. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:14.6719 (113.296) 
    14. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 01:15.2060 (112.491)
    15. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 01:15.2668 (112.400)
    16. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:15.2228 (112.466)
    17. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:15.6261 (111.866)
    18. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:15.2334 (112.450)
    19. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 01:15.6276 (111.864)
    20. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:15.2430 (112.436)
    21. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:15.8343 (111.559)
    22. (16) Oriol Servia, Honda, 01:15.2758 (112.387)
| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 3 2017
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