IndyCar: Grosjean wins pole for GMR Grand Prix

David Slayed Goliath on Friday in Indianapolis.

Ex-F1 driver and IndyCar rookie Romain Grosjean put the #51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda on pole for the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Grosjean’s lap of 1m09.4396s beat the Team Penske Chevy of Josef Newgarden by 0.1269s. Dale Coyne’s team is small compared to the mighty Team Penske, so it really was a story of David Slaying Goliath.

His F1 career ended in a fiery crash last November in Bahrain in which he escaped an inferno with serious burns to his hands, endearing himself to fans around the world with his optimistic spirit during his recovery.

Grosjean, who was also quick in practice earlier in the day, went out in Group 2 of Round 1 of qualifying and registered a fastest lap of 1:09.8556 which placed him fifth in his group and allowed him to move on to the Fast 12 for the second time this season.

Romain Grosjean

The Swiss-Franco driver then secured his first trip to the Firestone Fast 6 with a third place thanks to a lap of 1:09.5476.

The driver of the #51 Nurtec ODT car then took to the final round of qualifying with a used set of Firestone alternate tires and immediately jumped to first place on his first lap. Despite falling to second, Grosjean jumped back to P1 with a fastest lap of 1:09.4396 securing his first pole position in the series, in only his third NTT IndyCar Series start.

“Amazing,” Grosjean said. “When I saw the (first qualifying) group I was in, I was like, ‘Oh, dear, if we can get out of the first group, we’re going to be OK,’ and we did. That last few laps, we were on it. What a day for us.

“I’m happier than I have been in a very long time.”

Grosjean will lead the 25-car field to the green flag on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course Saturday afternoon. Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 2 p.m. (ET) on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

“My engineer made some good changes throughout the qualifying rounds, and it worked perfectly”, said an elated Frenchman Grosjean who could not show his talent in F1 because in F1 the car is 99% and the driver 1% and Grosjean was straddled with the Haas-Ferrari slug.

Romain Grosjean

“We were struggling a bit earlier today, but my engineer [Olivier Boisson] made some really good changes over the [practice session] runs.  Then we put on the Reds [softer compound, alternate Firestone tires on], and the car felt so good, amazing. Those last few laps [of qualifying] each time, I was ‘on it’. What a day for us!”

Romain Grosjean puts the Dale Coyne Honda on pole

This was the first INDYCAR pole for the Coyne team since 2018, when Sebastien Bourdais took the top spot at Phoenix Raceway.

“When you look at his resume and how great he was before he got into Formula One, and Formula One is such a team performance issue, we knew he could win races and we knew he could win poles,” team owner Dale Coyne said of Grosjean. “He’s proven it today.”

“I had Tim Cindric in my ear like always, he was telling me where we were at,” said Newgarden who had to settle for 2nd.

“I did a pretty good lap to be honest with you, I wasn’t dissatisfied with it, I think I was within a tenth of what was ultimately possible, so we just got beat, Grosjean did a great job. I’ve been very happy with our pace, it’s a lot of work to finish second, it’s kind of funny to be disappointed with that, but I think we’ve got a good vantage point for tomorrow, and we can focus on the main thing which is trying to get through this race and win, I mean winning at the end of the day is what’s most important, so we’ve got to put our best foot forward for tomorrow.”

Josef Newgarden

“I mean look, Grosjean’s a great driver, I’m not surprised that he’s adapted super well, much like Scott McLaughlin, like he’s done a stellar job, he’s right on the pace, but you can jump in any car in this series and have a shot at winning, you really can, and I think that’s the great thing about what IndyCar is right now is that there’s so much parity, so much competition, you don’t know who’s going to win each weekend. It’s tough on us, we’d love to have an advantage and know we’ve got a little more cushion every weekend, but it’s not guaranteed.

“But ultimately, we’ve put in a lot of work here, I think it’s the camaraderie at Team Penske that makes us successful, great partners like Snap-On and Team Chevy. So we think we have what we need to get on top of these people tomorrow but it’s no easy task beating anybody nowadays.”

Jack Harvey will start 3rd for Meyer Shank Racing while Alex Palou was 4th for Ganassi Racing and rookie Scott McLaughlin rounded out the top-5.

“We’re always excited to come to the Indianapolis road course, but what’s allowed this weekend to go well for us so far is really good preparation and focus from everyone on the Meyer Shank Racing/Honda team,” said Harvey.

Jack Harvey

“That was an incredible lap by Romain [Grosjean, to claim pole], but that’s what we love about the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

“We have a small team like Dale Coyne with RWR taking the pole, and our still relatively new team starting third. We all can come and compete [on equal terms]. I’m not sure how many other series in the world have that. We’re really close, and I hope that positivity can help drive us forward tomorrow.”

Conor Daly made his first career Firestone Fast 6 appearance today against a fitting backdrop: his hometown track, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In his new MannKind Corporation colors, Daly advanced through each round of qualifying. He will start 6th in tomorrow’s GMR Grand Prix, his best start at the road course.

Teammate Rinus VeeKay also had a strong run, narrowly missing out on the Fast 6 himself. The 20-year-old will start 7th.

“Today was a very, very exciting day for me,” said Daly!  “My first time in the Firestone Fast 6 – it took me a while to get there! We’ve done a lot of work to get this car to suit my driving style a bit more and today was a great example of that work paying off. We have a really great starting spot for tomorrow. I am very, very happy with what the Ed Carpenter Racing team has done. To be able to do this for MannKind and in their first race is super fantastic. Can’t wait to go into battle tomorrow!”

“Qualifying was going really well, and I just made a little mistake in Round 2,” said Veekay. “We just missed out! We have great speed and have some more ideas to try in warm up tomorrow. I am very ready to race!”

Some big names will start toward the back – Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon and Will Power never made it out of Round 1.

“At least we’re 12th – that’s better than St. Pete, 20th,” Power said. “It’s so crazy how the car can change so much from session to session. I made a mistake. I’m very frustrated at myself.”

British driver Max Chilton will not race in Saturday’s Indy Grand Prix because he couldn’t travel back to the United States from England.

The team remains hopeful Chilton will drive in the Indianapolis 500 on May 30.

Mark C. reporting for

Qualifying Results


Pos Car Driver Name Engine Time Speed Session
1 51 Grosjean, Romain (R) Honda 01m09.4396 126.447 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2 2 Newgarden, Josef Chevy 01m09.5665 126.216 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3 60 Harvey, Jack Honda 01m09.6528 126.060 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4 10 Palou, Alex Honda 01m09.7118 125.953 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5 3 McLaughlin, Scott (R) Chevy 01m09.7140 125.949 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
6 20 Daly, Conor Chevy 01m09.8662 125.675 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7 21 VeeKay, Rinus Chevy 01m09.8185 125.760 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 26 Herta, Colton Honda 01m09.8222 125.754 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 18 Jones, Ed Honda 01m09.8548 125.695 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 22 Pagenaud, Simon Chevy 01m09.8722 125.664 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 15 Rahal, Graham Honda 01m09.9060 125.603 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 12 Power, Will Chevy No Time No Speed Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 7 Rosenqvist, Felix Chevy 01m09.8243 125.750 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 27 Rossi, Alexander Honda 01m09.9012 125.612 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 8 Ericsson, Marcus Honda 01m09.8382 125.725 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 9 Dixon, Scott Honda 01m09.9512 125.522 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 30 Sato, Takuma Honda 01m09.8665 125.674 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 5 O’Ward, Pato Chevy 01m10.0726 125.304 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan Honda 01m09.8759 125.657 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 14 Bourdais, Sebastien Chevy 01m10.1830 125.107 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 11 Kimball, Charlie Chevy 01m10.6810 124.226 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
22 29 Hinchcliffe, James Honda 01m10.6174 124.338 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
23 48 Johnson, Jimmie (R) Honda 01m11.0455 123.588 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
24 4 Kellett, Dalton Chevy 01m10.9312 123.788 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
25 86 Montoya, Juan Pablo Chevy 01m11.1370 123.429 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

Round 1 Group 1

Pos No Name Time Diff Gap Speed Engine Team
1 21 Rinus VeeKay 1:09.4890 1:09.4890 0.000 126.357 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
2 26 Colton Herta 1:09.5867 0.0977 0.0977 126.179 Honda Andretti Autosport
3 18 Ed Jones 1:09.7152 0.2262 0.1285 125.947 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
4 60 Jack Harvey 1:09.7589 0.2699 0.0437 125.868 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
5 15 Graham Rahal 1:09.7918 0.3028 0.0329 125.808 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
6 22 Simon Pagenaud 1:09.8061 0.3171 0.0143 125.783 Chevy Team Penske
Elimination Cutoff
7 7 Felix Rosenqvist 1:09.8243 0.3353 0.0182 125.750 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
8 8 Marcus Ericsson 1:09.8382 0.3492 0.0139 125.725 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
9 30 Takuma Sato 1:09.8665 0.3775 0.0283 125.674 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
10 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:09.8759 0.3869 0.0094 125.657 Honda Andretti Autosport
11 11 Charlie Kimball 1:10.6810 1.1920 0.8051 124.226 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
12 48 Jimmie Johnson 1:11.0455 1.5565 0.3645 123.588 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing


Round 1 Group 2

Pos No Name Time Diff Gap Speed Engine Team
1 2 Josef Newgarden 1:09.6101 1:09.6101 0.000 126.137 Chevy Team Penske
2 10 Alex Palou 1:09.6589 0.0488 0.0488 126.049 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
3 3 Scott McLaughlin 1:09.7537 0.1436 0.0948 125.877 Chevy Team Penske
4 20 Conor Daly 1:09.7646 0.1545 0.0109 125.858 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
5 51 Romain Grosjean 1:09.8556 0.2455 0.0910 125.694 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing
6 12 Will Power 1:09.8963 0.2862 0.0407 125.620 Chevy Team Penske
Elimination Cutoff
7 27 Alexander Rossi 1:09.9012 0.2911 0.0049 125.612 Honda Andretti Autosport
8 9 Scott Dixon 1:09.9512 0.3411 0.0500 125.522 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
9 5 Pato O’Ward 1:10.0726 0.4625 0.1214 125.304 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
10 14 Sebastien Bourdais 1:10.1830 0.5729 0.1104 125.107 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
11 29 James Hinchcliffe 1:10.6174 1.0073 0.4344 124.338 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
12 86 Juan Pablo Montoya 1:10.8705 1.2604 0.2531 123.894 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
13 4 Dalton Kellett 1:10.9312 1.3211 0.0607 123.788 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises


Round 2

Pos No Name Time Diff Gap Speed Engine Team
1 10 Alex Palou 1:09.4743 0.0000 0.000 126.383 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
2 60 Jack Harvey 1:09.5189 0.0446 0.0446 126.302 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
3 51 Romain Grosjean 1:09.5476 0.0733 0.0287 126.250 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing
4 20 Conor Daly 1:09.5627 0.0884 0.0151 126.223 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
5 3 Scott McLaughlin 1:09.7727 0.2984 0.2100 125.843 Chevy Team Penske
6 2 Josef Newgarden 1:09.7837 0.3094 0.0110 125.823 Chevy Team Penske
Elimination Cutoff
7 21 Rinus VeeKay 1:09.8185 0.3442 0.0348 125.760 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
8 26 Colton Herta 1:09.8222 0.3479 0.0037 125.754 Honda Andretti Autosport
9 18 Ed Jones 1:09.8548 0.3805 0.0326 125.695 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
10 22 Simon Pagenaud 1:09.8722 0.3979 0.0174 125.664 Chevy Team Penske
11 15 Graham Rahal 1:09.9060 0.4317 0.0338 125.603 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
12 12 Will Power 1:11.7005 2.2262 1.7945 122.459 Chevy Team Penske


Round 3 Fast Six

Pos No Name Time Diff Gap Speed Engine Team
1 51 Romain Grosjean 1:09.4396 0.0000 0.000 126.447 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing
2 2 Josef Newgarden 1:09.5665 0.1269 0.1269 126.216 Chevy Team Penske
3 60 Jack Harvey 1:09.6677 0.2281 0.1012 126.033 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
4 10 Alex Palou 1:09.7118 0.2722 0.0441 125.953 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
5 3 Scott McLaughlin 1:09.7140 0.2744 0.0022 125.949 Chevy Team Penske
6 20 Conor Daly 1:09.8662 0.4266 0.1522 125.675 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing