Race Weekend Central

Romain Grosjean Takes Second IndyCar Pole of 2023 at Barber

Romain Grosjean became the first repeat polesitter of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season by topping Saturday’s (April 29) nail-biting qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

Grosjean will be followed to the green flag in Sunday’s (April 30) race by Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward. The Frenchman was the only Andretti driver to advance to the Firestone Fast Six, where five different teams were represented by six drivers.

“I’ve got a Hell of a team!” Grosjean told NBC after exiting his car. “We’re doing such a great job this year. The car is awesome, we’ve got three teammates that I can rely on … from the moment we started quali, I knew I had it. We’re starting in the best position, and now we’ve got 90 laps to lead, so we’ll see tomorrow but I’m really proud of my guys and really happy with what we’ve been doing.”

Firestone Fast Six

The Fast Six round was free of on-track incidents, with an organic, old-fashioned shootout among Grosjean, Palou, O’Ward, Christian Lundgaard, Scott McLaughlin and Scott Dixon.

Despite ending the round at the bottom of the time chart, Lundgaard’s sixth-place starting position for Sunday’s race will be a relief to his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, who have struggled for pace to this point in the season. Lundgaard will line up behind McLaughlin and Dixon, who both had quiet sessions.

See also
IndyCar Preview: 2023 Children's of Alabama Grand Prix

Round 2

Rinus VeeKay and Will Power opened Round 2 with a string of unpleasant encounters on track. As the field rolled around the circuit queuing up to start banker laps, VeeKay overtook Power, violating an unspoken agreement among IndyCar drivers that prohibits overtaking among drivers who aren’t on timed laps. Following an investigation, race control opted to take no further action on the matter.

VeeKay and Power both ran off-course in the closing moments of Round 2, preventing their advancement to the Firestone Fast Six. VeeKay later addressed the incident with Power; when asked by NBC if he violated a gentleman’s agreement, VeeKay replied: “Maybe a little, but am I gentleman? You know, no hard feelings.”

Eliminated from Round 2 were:

7. Josef Newgarden

8. Felix Rosenqvist

9. Rinus VeeKay

10. Alexander Rossi

11. Will Power

12. Kyle Kirkwood

Round 1 Group 1

Notable appearances near the top of the time chart in Group 1 included VeeKay, Helio Castroneves and Sting Ray Robb. Late fast laps from Kirkwood and Grosjean bumped Castroneves and Robb from advancing to the second round of qualifying, along with a shock elimination for current points leader Marcus Ericsson.

Eliminated from Round 1 in Group 1 were:

13. Marcus Ericsson

15. Callum Ilott

17. David Malukas

19. Graham Rahal

21. Helio Castroneves

23. Sting Ray Robb

25. Benjamin Pedersen

Round 1 Group 2

Marcus Armstrong was penalized with the last of his two fastest laps of the session after he was deemed to have impeded Lundgaard on one of the latter’s flying laps. Armstrong was seen weaving to warm his tires on the approach to the turn 7 chicane complex, and subsequently placed his No. 11 Chip Ganassi Racing machine in the path of a fast-approaching Lundgaard, forcing the Danish driver to bail out of his timed lap.

Santino Ferrucci appeared to suffer from mechanical woes, as his A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet never got to set a flying lap, ending the session with a fastest time of 3:49.1462.

Eliminated from Round 1 in Group 2 were:

14. Colton Herta

16. Simon Pagenaud

18. Devlin DeFrancesco

20. Conor Daly

22. Agustin Canapino

24. Jack Harvey

26. Marcus Armstrong

27. Santino Ferrucci

2023 Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix Starting Lineup

The 2023 Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix will take place Sunday, April 30, at 3 p.m. ET with coverage on NBC.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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