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Rosenqvist Clinches First Pole Position at INDYCAR Grand Prix

Rookie Felix Rosenqvist led a Chip Ganassi Racing sweep of the front row for the INDYCAR Grand Prix by capturing his first career NTT IndyCar Series pole Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rosenqvist, from Sweden, was quickest in the Firestone Fast Six with a lap time of 1 minute, 8.2785 seconds in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda on an overcast day with chilly temperatures in the low 50s. His previous best start was third in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.

"I'm happy we decided to do three laps because that last lap the tires really switched on,” Rosenqvist said. “It's so cold, so you need a couple of laps to make the car work. A big thanks to Chip Ganassi Racing and NTT Data. They made all the right decisions today, which is what it’s all about. When it's so tight, you have half a second between P1 and P18, it's all about the details.”

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Rosenqvist earned the 90th Indy car pole for Chip Ganassi Racing. The pole sitter has won this race four times in its five years. The 85-lap INDYCAR Grand Prix starts at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC) on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course that incorporates part of the famous 2.5-mile oval at IMS.

“It was a really, really good job by everyone and amazing to have my first IndyCar pole,” Rosenqvist said. “It's a good twist for me this season. It's been up and down. We've been in the Firestone Fast Six three times now, but I think there's been a lot of mistakes and a lot of ups and downs. I think the approach this weekend is very different. It's more calm. I tried to build to it rather than hit the limit then work my way down. I find it's a different approach, and it seemed to work.”

Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was less than two-hundredths of a second behind his teammate, turning a top lap of 1:08.2979 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Jack Harvey qualified a career-best third at 1:08.3238 in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda. Rookie Colton Herta tied a career best by qualifying fourth at 1:08.3743 in the No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda. Herta, 19, also qualified fourth for the INDYCAR Classic in March at Circuit of the Americas, which he won at age 18 to become the youngest race winner in Indy car history.

Ed Jones qualified fifth and was the quickest Chevrolet-powered driver at 1:08.4609 in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa car.

Three-time INDYCAR Grand Prix winner Will Power rounded out the Firestone Fast Six at 1:08.7901 in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet. It was Power’s lowest starting spot at this event since he started 10th in 2016, as he won in 2017 and 2018 from the pole.

NTT IndyCar Series championship leader Josef Newgarden failed to advance from the first round of qualifying and will start 13th in the No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Team Penske Chevrolet.

Newgarden was one of many standouts who didn’t make it out of the first round. Others were three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who will start 15th, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, who will start 16th after being slowed by food poisoning, 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who will start 17th, and 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter James Hinchcliffe, who will start 18th.

While pole sitters have dominated this race, there is hope for the drivers starting deep in the field. Dixon finished second behind Power last year after starting 18th.

Competition started this afternoon with three races for the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.

Robert Megennis earned his first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires victory. Pole sitter Megennis, from New York, beat runner-up Oliver Askew to the checkered flag by 1.9523 seconds. Rinus VeeKay finished third.

“First Indy Lights pole, first win; it’s a dream come true,” Megennis said. “Where else to do it besides Indianapolis? This place is so historical, so much history here, and it’s such a fun track. Oliver was there the whole time. He was always putting me under pressure. He made me work for it. We ended up on top, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Askew passed his Andretti Autosport teammate Megennis for the lead on Lap 3 of the 30-lap race with an inside move on the front straightaway leading into Turn 1. But Megennis countered by passing Askew two laps later and kept the top spot until the finish.

Megennis climbed to third in the Indy Lights championship standings with the victory, 17 points behind leader Askew. VeeKay is second in the standings, nine points behind Askew.

Rasmus Lindh led all 25 laps for his first victory of the season in the Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires race. Swedish driver Lindh, who started from pole, beat Kyle Kirkwood by .8797 of a second. Danial Frost finished third.

“We pulled quite a good gap in the beginning until Lap 10,” Lindh said. “Then I did a small mistake into Turn 1 because I was trying to get the lap times down in the first sector. I locked up the wheels. He (Frost) was in the back of me for a few laps, and we pulled the gap ahead again.”

Kirkwood was moved to the rear of the 14-car field after an aborted start but climbed quickly through the field to pass Frost for second and pressure Lindh all the way to the checkered flag.

Braden Eves continued his perfect record in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship with his third victory of the season. Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, held off Hunter McElrea by .2998 after a spirited duel in the closing laps of the 15-lap race. Manual Sulaiman finished third.

Eves led from the pole until Lap 8, when McElrea grabbed the lead. But Eves regained the top spot on Lap 14 with an outside pass and never trailed thereafter.

It was a great race with Hunter,” Eves said. “We both gave each other room, and it was a very respectful race. It was definitely one of the best races I’ve ever had. It’s a little bit tough when you’re following closely behind with the aero wash you get right behind somebody. But when we were side-by-side racing, it was crazy. I made that outside move work on that last lap, so I’m ecstatic.”

All three Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires series will race again Saturday at IMS.

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