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Rossi Earns Pole For Race 2 In Detroit

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 3 2018

Alexander Rossi won the pole for Sunday’s Race 2 of the Detroit Grand Prix double-header.

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Alexander Rossi delivered Andretti Autosport its second Verizon P1 Award in as many days Sunday, capturing pole position in qualifying for Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

Running on the new Firestone rain tire in wet but drying conditions in the morning on the 2.35-mile/14-turn temporary street course at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park, Rossi turned a best lap of 1-minute, 33.3143-seconds/ 90.661 mph in the No. 27  Honda. The lap earned the current Verizon IndyCar Series point-leader the third pole of his three-year career and second this season.

Marco Andretti, Rossi’s teammate, took pole position in Saturday’s qualifying for Race 1, won by Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing for Honda.

The past two times Rossi has started a race from the pole _ at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International last September and Long Beach this year _ he has gone on to win the race. This time, he had to earn the top starting spot in treacherous conditions.

“It was difficult,” Rossi said. “The wet’s hard in any type of condition, especially on a street course like this. I’ve got to give a shout out to Firestone. This new tread pattern they came up with was really stout. It had a lot of grip, it was very predictable, I knew where the limit was right away. It made the job easier, for sure. It then becomes a session of trying to find the grip and maximizing as much as you can. Fortunately, the No. 27 Ruoff Home Mortgage car had a good balance and allowed me to do that.”

Rossi was the fastest driver in the second qualifying group when the track began drying following a heavy rainstorm early in the morning. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie Robert Wickens was quick in the first group and will start on the outside of Row 1 following a lap of 1:33.6605/90.326 mph in the No. 6 SPM Honda.

“Honestly, it was a tough session,” Wickens said. “First time with these Firestone rain tires and the first time driving an Indy car in the wet on a street course. On a street course, because it’s a normal road, there’s some unique lines that you have to take. Normally, you want to avoid the rubber or the oil, but on a street course, there’s cars driving everywhere on them, so it’s permanently slippery. It’s always unique on a street course to find the grip and the speed. Having clear visibility in that quali helped me quite a bit.”

A native of Canada, Wickens won the pole in his first  race on the Streets of St. Pete in Florida in March and qualified second in last month’s INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. “I’m very happy to start P2,” Wickens said. “It’s my third front-row start of the season. Hard to complain.”

Several drivers encountered difficulty on the slick concrete circuit during qualifying. Popular Brazilian Tony Kanaan, the 2004 series champion who made his 350th Indy car start in Race 1 Saturday, damaged the front wing of his No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet when he hit the wall on his out-lap and caused a red-flag stoppage. Per INDYCAR rules, Kanaan was not allowed to continue in the session and will start 22nd in the 23-car field.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champ who finished second to Dixon in Race 1, went into the Turn 3 runoff at one point in qualifying and then spun in Turn 8. The latter incident brought out a local yellow flag, forcing Hunter-Reay to surrender his best lap to that point. He will start 10th in the No. 28 Honda.

Josef Newgarden, the reigning Series champion, slid into the Turn 11 tire barrier late in the second qualifying group to bring out a red flag to end the session. Penalized his two fast laps, Newgarden will start 19th in the No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet.

Dixon, who collected career win No. 42 on Saturday to tie Michael Andretti for third on the all-time list, qualified fifth in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:33.9544. With the bonus point earned for qualifying first, Rossi leads Dixon by five points heading into the race.

Will Power, who won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 last Sunday, is eight points behind Rossi and third in the standings. The Australian qualified third in the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet at 1:33.8295.

Graham Rahal, who won both Detroit races a year ago but crashed out and finished in 23rd place on Saturday, was forced into his backup car Sunday and qualified ninth in the No. 15 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

This 70-lap race, Round 8 of 17 on the 2018 schedule, airs live on ABC (3:30 p.m. EDT) and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.  

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 3 2018
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