Alexander Rossi wins Detroit GP Race 2 pole in wet

Rossi on pole using new Firestone rain tire
Rossi on pole using new Firestone rain tire

IndyCar points leader Alexander Rossi (Andretti Honda) turned the fastest lap in a wet qualifying session to win pole for the 2nd half of the Detroit GP doubleheader weekend this afternoon by 1/2 second over Penske Chevy driver Will Power who will start third.

Robert Wickens was fastest in Group 2 and will start on the outside of the front row and Ed Jones will start 4th while Scott Dixon rounds out the top-5.

A morning downpour made Firestone’s new rain tires mandatory for both 12-minute qualifying groups, as Robert Wickens paced the first session with an impressive lap of 1m33.6605 in his Lucas Oil Honda. Concrete does not dry as fast as asphalt and the track was just as wet for the 2nd sessions in his Ruoff/NAPA Honda before Josef Newgarden ran out of talent and drove his car into the tires and brought out the red flag with just under four minutes remaining and that ended the session.

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

Marco Andretti, Rossi's teammate, took the pole position in Saturday's qualifying for Race 1, which was won by Scott Dixon.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The past two times Rossi has started a race from the pole – at Watkins Glen International last season 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 Lucas Oil 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," added Wickens, who won the pole in his first Verizon IndyCar Series race at St. Petersburg in March and qualified second in last month's INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. "I'm very happy to start P2. It's my third front-row start of the season. Hard to complain."

Rossi gets the pole award for the #27 team
Rossi gets the pole award for the #27 team

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

Ryan Hunter-Reay, 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 DHL Honda.

Josef Newgarden, the 2017 Verizon IndyCar 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 Hitachi 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 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (1:33.9544). With the bonus point earned for qualifying first, Rossi leads Dixon by five points heading into the race. 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power, eight points behind Rossi and third in the standings, qualified third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (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 to his backup car today and qualified ninth in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

This afternoon's 70-lap race, the eighth of 17 on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, airs live on ABC (3:30 p.m. ET) and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (3 p.m.).

Starting Lineup

Pos Car Driver Name Engine Time Speed
Session (Wet Throughout)
1 27 Rossi, Alexander Honda 01:33.3143 90.661 Qualifications / Group 1
2 6 Wickens, Robert (R) Honda 01:33.6605 90.326 Qualifications / Group 2
3 12 Power, Will Chevy 01:33.8295 90.164 Qualifications / Group 1
4 10 Jones, Ed Honda 01:33.9256 90.071 Qualifications / Group 2
5 9 Dixon, Scott Honda 01:33.9544 90.044 Qualifications / Group 1
6 5 Hinchcliffe, James Honda 01:34.1370 89.869 Qualifications / Group 2
7 26 Veach, Zach (R) Honda 01:34.6464 89.385 Qualifications / Group 1
8 22 Pagenaud, Simon Chevy 01:34.2315 89.779 Qualifications / Group 2
9 15 Rahal, Graham Honda 01:35.0256 89.029 Qualifications / Group 1
10 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan Honda 01:34.5021 89.522 Qualifications / Group 2
11 20 King, Jordan (R) Chevy 01:35.1374 88.924 Qualifications / Group 1
12 98 Andretti, Marco Honda 01:34.5475 89.479 Qualifications / Group 2
13 19 Ferrucci, Santino (R) Honda 01:35.4664 88.618 Qualifications / Group 1
14 88 Chaves, Gabby Chevy 01:35.6045 88.490 Qualifications / Group 2
15 21 Pigot, Spencer Chevy 01:36.3713 87.785 Qualifications / Group 1
16 18 Bourdais, Sebastien Honda 01:35.6692 88.430 Qualifications / Group 2
17 59 Chilton, Max Chevy 01:36.9796 87.235 Qualifications / Group 1
18 4 Leist, Matheus (R) Chevy 01:36.0439 88.085 Qualifications / Group 2
19 1 Newgarden, Josef Chevy 01:38.3041 86.059 Qualifications / Group 1
20 30 Sato, Takuma Honda 01:37.0851 87.140 Qualifications / Group 2
21 23 Kimball, Charlie Chevy 01:39.3597 85.145 Qualifications / Group 1
22 14 Kanaan, Tony Chevy No Time No Speed Qualifications / Group 2
23 32 Binder, Rene (R) Chevy No Time No Speed Qualifications / Group 2

(R) Rookie

Tire Choices at Start of Race

SP Car Driver Name Engine Tire
1 27 Rossi, Alexander Honda Red – Soft
2 6 Wickens, Robert (R) Honda Red – Soft
3 12 Power, Will Chevy Red – Soft
4 10 Jones, Ed Honda Red – Soft
5 9 Dixon, Scott Honda Red – Soft
6 5 Hinchcliffe, James Honda Red – Soft
7 26 Veach, Zach (R) Honda Red – Soft
8 22 Pagenaud, Simon Chevy Red – Soft
9 15 Rahal, Graham Honda Red – Soft
10 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan Honda Red – Soft
11 20 King, Jordan (R) Chevy Red – Soft
12 98 Andretti, Marco Honda Red – Soft
13 19 Ferrucci, Santino (R) Honda Red – Soft
14 88 Chaves, Gabby Chevy Red – Soft
15 21 Pigot, Spencer Chevy Red – Soft
16 18 Bourdais, Sebastien Honda Red – Soft
17 59 Chilton, Max Chevy Red – Soft
18 4 Leist, Matheus (R) Chevy Black – Hard
19 1 Newgarden, Josef Chevy Red – Soft
20 30 Sato, Takuma Honda Red – Soft
21 23 Kimball, Charlie Chevy Red – Soft
22 14 Kanaan, Tony Chevy Red – Soft
24 32 Binder, Rene (R) Chevy Red – Soft

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