Rinus VeeKay is having a whale of a day.
The Dutchman was quickest in morning practice and topped off the chocolate cake with his second-career NTT IndyCar Series pole on Saturday afternoon (April 30) with a fast lap of 1 minute, 6.2507 seconds in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet fielded by Ed Carpenter Racing. His previous career pole came in October 2020 for the Harvest Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“Confidence is high,” VeeKay stated. “This is a track where passing is not happening too much, at least when you’re not off sequence. From here, we can have a great race and fight for the win, definitely.”
Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, who hails from Mexico, will join VeeKay on the front row for the 90-lap event, which begins at 1:15 p.m. ET Sunday.
Reigning series champion Alex Palou qualified third for the second race in a row for Chip Ganassi Racing, followed by Scott McLaughlin in fourth. Alexander Rossi, who crashed in practice Friday morning, rebounded to grab the fifth spot, the best of the Andretti drivers. The result came despite the crew changing/repairing his engine, gearbox, steering rack, and floor in less than three hours.
Felix Rosenqvist claimed sixth for Arrow McLaren to take the final Fast Six slot.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden improved from practice but was the first driver to miss out on the pole battle in seventh. The three-time Alabama winner will look to rebound at BMP after wrecking out on the opening lap a year ago.
Romain Grosjean will look to keep the momentum going following a career-best second at Long Beach. He will start eighth, followed by Graham Rahal, who picked up his best starting position of the year in ninth.
Colton Herta rounded out the top 10 after a gamble to save tires for the pole shootout failed. The move has worked for him in the past, and it propelled him to the pole at Long Beach, but this time it cost him when Marcus Ericsson spun at turn 8 at the conclusion of the session to bring out a red flag. The incident also robbed rookie Callum Ilott of improving his starting position.
In other notables, four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves will start 16th after spinning in turn 9. However, the Brazilian was all smiles despite the mistake.
“We have good news and bad news. The good news is [we have a good car]. The bad news is [we didn’t make the final round] because I ended up spinning out in Turn 9.”
Jimmie Johnson will start from last (26th) after running a fast lap of 1 minute, 9.0075 seconds.
Drivers who made the cut in Rounds 1 & 2
Round 1 Group 1
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Pato O’Ward
3. Felix Rosenqvist
4. Alex Palou
5. Alexander Rossi
6. Graham Rahal
Round 1 Group 2
1. Romain Grosjean
2. Colton Herta
3. Josef Newgarden
4. Rinus Veekay
5. Callum Ilott
6. Marcus Ericsson
1 Pato O’Ward
2 Scott McLaughlin
3 Alexander Rossi
4 Felix Rosenqvist
5 Rinus VeeKay
6 Alex Palou