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Andretti On Pole For First Detroit Race

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 2 2018

Driver Marco Andretti started Saturday’s IndyCar Series race from the pole.

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Marco Andretti became the seventh different Verizon P1 Award winner in as many Verizon IndyCar Series races this season when he captured pole position Saturday in qualifying for the first race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The third-generation Indy car driver toured The Raceway at Belle Isle Park temporary street course in 1- minute, 14.8514-seconds/113.024 mph on his last lap to collect the fifth pole of his 13-year career and first since Pocono Raceway in July 2013.

Andretti will lead the field to the green flag in this afternoon’s race. Remarkably, it marked the first pole for the 31-year-old on a road or street circuit.

“I’m definitely embarrassed to say that this is my first (road/street) pole, but I’ve been outside pole so many times on road and street courses,” said Andretti, driver of the No. 98 AutoNation/Curb Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian. “Extremely pleased to execute today. I think yesterday I knew we had the speed .. .so I knew we had it in the car. All I had to do was execute, and I was able to do that instead of just talking, ‘Oh we would have been first.’ Now we are.”

Andretti will look to erase an even more embarrassing fact Saturday. The son of team-owner Michael Andretti and grandson of 1969 Indy 500 champion Mario Andretti hasn’t won a race since 2011 at Iowa Speedway _ a stretch of 115 races.

“It’s not easy to be first in anything,” Marco said. “It’s been a challenge. The win column is what’s really been bugging me, for sure. Starting first is awesome but I definitely want to win the race. We have a great shot at doing that today. As soon as I knew we won pole, the switch in my brain flipped to win.”

In the unique qualifying format for the Detroit doubleheader weekend, the 23-car field was split into two groups _ with each group receiving 12 minutes of track time on the 2.35-mile/14-turn circuit. Scott Dixon, in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, was quickest in the first group with a lap of 1:15.4186/112.174 mph and will start alongside Andretti on the front row.

“The PNC Bank car has been pretty good,” said Dixon, a four-time series champion. “We haven’t changed too much on it. It was a pretty rough lap, actually. The car actually had more speed in it. Kinda hit the wall in (Turns) 8 and 6 on the inside. Hit the curb big in (Turn) 11, which launched the car. It was a very scrappy lap.

“We’re happy to be on the front row. Hopefully, we can race well and the goal is to go one spot better. Congrats to Marco. They did a great job across the board.”

Under the format, the drivers in Andretti’s qualifying group will occupy the odd-numbered grid positions for the 70-lap race, based upon their qualifying times. The drivers from Dixon’s group will fill in the even-numbered starting positions.

Honda-powered drivers swept the first five qualifying positions and nine of the top 11. Rookie Robert Wickens will start third in the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda (1:15.3267), with Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport fourth in the No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda (1:15.4946).

Will Power, who won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 last Sunday to take the championship lead after six races, will start sixth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Graham Rahal, who swept both Belle Isle races a year ago, goes off eighth in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix is the only doubleheader weekend on the schedule. Live coverage of today’s race, the seventh of 17 this season, began on ABC at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 2 2018
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