LEEDS, Ala – It shouldn’t come as any shock at all that all four Andretti Autosport cars, all three Team Penske entries and both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers made up nine of the 12 spots in the second round of qualifying on Saturday afternoon at the Barber Motorsports Park. These three organizations are the ones to beat in Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network).
So, when Josef Newgarden put his No. 1 Chevrolet on the pole, that too wasn’t surprising. Newgarden, circled the 2.3-mile Alabama road course with a time of 1:07.4413-seconds en route to his third career Verizon IndyCar Series pole. His other two were at Milwaukee in 2015 and Sonoma in 2017.
Newgarden, won two weeks ago in Phoenix and has won two of the last three Barber races including just last year.
Will Power earned his sixth straight Barber front row starting spot and eighth in nine tries. He turned a lap of 1:07.4541-seconds in his No. 12 Chevrolet and is looking to back up his performance at Barber last year where he led 60 laps but got a flat tire with 14 to go and had to pit as a result.
Sebastien Bourdais will start third in his No. 18 Honda. The Frenchman set a lap of 1:07.5337-seconds.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:07.7807-seconds) and James Hinchcliffe (1:07.9472-seconds) rounded out the top five.
Tony Kanaan will roll off last after losing his top two qualifying laps when he crashed in the opening round. Kanaan, lost control of his No. 14 Chevrolet when exiting pit lane on fresh Firestone tires and backed into the tire barriers at pit exit. The incident would bring out the red flag and end the session prematurely.
The teams not advancing past the first round were mostly the same. The Carlin duo will share Row 7, while both Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing cars, both Ed Carpenter Racing cars, both AJ Foyt Racing cars and the two single car entries for Harding and Juncos Racing were the ones not to advance to the second round.
The ECR duo were puzzled that they weren’t stronger. Spencer Pigot was 2-seconds off from where he was in practice on Friday and that left them scratching their heads. They didn’t do anything to their car overnight or even in the morning practice either.
Graham Rahal will start 15th and hope the rain helps him come through the field. He was just too loose during the qualifying run and didn’t have enough under him to keep it straight and on a hot lap.
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Starting Lineup
Row 1: Josef Newgarden, Will Power
Row 2: Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay
Row 3: James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon
Row 4: Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi
Row 5: Simon Pagenaud, Robert Wickens R
Row 6: Zach Veach R, Ed Jones
Row 7: Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball
Row 8: Graham Rahal, Zachary Claman DeMelo R
Row 9: Spencer Pigot, Takuma Sato
Row 10: Jordan King R, Gabby Chaves
Row 11: Matheus Leist R, Rene Binder R
Row 12: Tony Kanaan