A Front Row Shutout for RLL

After three thrilling practice sessions at the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama, qualifying was not a disappointment in the slightest. With Team Penske struggling and underdogs rising to the top, it was an awesome afternoon leading into tomorrow's race.

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A Front Row Shutout for RLL
Fuente imagen: IndyCar

Who doesn't love a good David vs Goliath battle? Today's qualifying at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was the definition of said battle. With Team Penske struggling and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing rising to the top, there are plenty of things to write home about from Barber Motorsports Park. Including the answer for the ever so confusing Firestone Red tires.

The afternoon practice session on Friday left many teams confused and frustrated. Teams, for some reason, could not seem to figure out a good setup compromise for the red alternate Firestone tires. The rumour throughout the paddock was that the tires were made in 2017, and were old and degraded very quickly. That happened to not be the case, according to Firestone tire engineer Cara Adams, the tires were indeed developed and made in 2018 after the conclusion of the 2018 season. Today totally debunked what those teams were saying, as they proved to be almost a whole half a second faster over the duration of a qualifying lap. So...with that being said, let's look at today's qualifying session.

Group One was nothing short of spectacular, with no Penske's and no Dixon, this session was essentially anyone's for the taking, and that is exactly what it turned into. Zach Veach, who has been struggling all weekend, was last in the session by four tenths. Ed Jones of Ed Carpenter Racing was 11th, right behind Tony Kanaan who had been in the top three until the red alternate tires came into play. A shocker for the session was Chip Ganassi Racing's Felix Rosenqvist, who ended in 9th in Group One. Rosenqvist was behind Matheus Leist of AJ Foyt Racing and Marco Andretti. Jack Harvey continued his impressive start to the season by making the Fast 12 just five hundredths of a second behind Rossi. Dale Coyne Racing duo Sebastien Bourdais and Santino Ferrucci finished 4th and 3rd respectively while rookie Colton Herta and Spencer Pigot finished 2nd and 1st. 

Group Two was more of the same, with shocking results up and down the grid. DragonSpeed's Ben Hanley qualified last in the group in their 2nd ever race as a single car team. Former Formula One drivers Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson finished 11th and 10th. Carlin rookie Patricio O'Ward was 9th, right behind two former IndyCar series champions Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, both of whom have dominated the race the last 3 years. Canadian James Hinchcliffe of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport was the last of the drivers to advance out of Group 2. Ahead of Hinchcliffe were Indy 500 winners Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Will Power. 2nd in the session was Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Graham Rahal who was one tenth behind five time series champion Scott Dixon.

Round Two again had everything one would dream of for qualifying. Meyer Shank Racing driver Jack Harvey was last in the session behind Hunter-Reay and rookie Ferrucci. Circuit of the Americas winner and rookie Colton Herta was 9th, behind the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 Alexander Rossi. Will Power finished 7th and missed the Firestone Fast Six for the first time in what seems like a century. Bourdais and Rahal were 6th and 5th while Sato was 4th. Scott Dixon finished 3rd while Ed Carpenter Racing's Spencer Pigot finished 2nd and James Hinchcliffe lead the session with a lap time of 1:08.407.

The Firestone Fast Six had Hinchcliffe, Pigot, Dixon, Sato, Rahal, and Bourdais. No Team Penske made this anyone's guess as to who would win the pole, with the safe bet being Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing. Pigot was the first driver out and never went to the alternate red tires and finished with a lap time of 1:09.607. Bourdais ended the session in 5th, while Hinchcliffe, who dominated the weekend up until the final round of qualifying, finished 4th. Scott Dixon ended up qualifying 3rd while the Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato finished 2nd and 1st. This was the first time the Rahal team had locked out the front row since 2005 at Chicagoland Speedway with Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice.

Tune in to tomorrow's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 4:15 p.m. Eastern time at Barber Motorsports Park on NBCSN to follow the action! 

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