Saturday, June 3, 2023

Romain Grosjean Qualifies on Pole at Barber Motorsports Park

Romain Grosjean practicing at Barber Motorsports Park in 2023.
Romain Grosjean practicing at Barber Motorsports Park in 2023. Photo courtesy of Karl Zemlin/Penske Entertainment.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.— Romain Grosjean secured Andretti Autosport’s third IndyCar Series pole position of the year ahead of Sunday’s Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park.

The No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda went around the 17-turn, 2.3-mile natural terrain road course in 1 minute, 5.8396 seconds to average 125.760 mph. It’s Grosjean’s second pole of the season following the season-opener race on the streets of St. Petersburg.

“I was very stressed that session, I don’t know why,” Grosjean said after climbing from the car. “I told them I’m too old for this, but I guess I’m not, so it’s all good!”

Qualifying second was Alex Palou in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The 2021 Barber winner was just .0734 seconds slower than Grosjean. Third fastest was 2022 Barber winner Pato O’Ward, .0252 seconds slower than Palou.

Palou was fastest in the Saturday morning practice session but it was such a fine margin that failed to dethrone the Swiss-born Frenchman.

“I know where I missed that,” Palou said. “It was just driving. But I’m sure that every lap from every single driver has some issues here and there and you start to add up. Yeah, at the end my lap with my issues was just slower than Grosjean’s with issues, as well. It is what it is. It’s tight, so I prefer to start on the front row being so tight than start on the front row being like three tenths off.”

Qualifying began with the first group of round one, with 13 cars having 10 minutes of track time. The fastest six drivers advanced to round two, with Josef Newgarden leading Grosjean, Alexander Rossi, Kyle Kirkwood, Scott Dixon and Rinus VeeKay.

The second group went shortly thereafter and Palou, O’Ward, Scott McLaughlin, Christian Lundgaard, Felix Rosenqvist and Will Power advanced to the second round.

The second round of qualifying had some drama of its own as McLaughlin eliminated his teammate Newgarden from participation in the Firestone Fast Six. The three-time Barber winner qualified seventh as Grosjean, O’Ward, McLaughlin, Palou, Lundgaard and Dixon advanced to contest pole position between them.

Grosjean’s pole position could be seen as a surprise this weekend. The Formula 1 veteran lost almost the entire Friday practice session to an engine failure and had to rely on his teammate’s feedback from that 75 minute session.

The feedback worked as Grosjean was sixth fastest in Saturday’s morning practice session.

“I’ve got three teammates that I can rely on so I kind of went with their setup with the baseline we had,” Grosjean said. “From the moment we started qualifying, I knew I had it, so I just didn’t want to mess it up on the last lap. I’m happy.”

Qualifying results:


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