Rosenqvist takes last-second pole in final IndyCar start for McLaren


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On the week where he announced his departure from McLaren after three seasons, Felix Rosenqvist won pole position for the final IndyCar race of the 2023 season at Laguna Seca.

It was a record-shattering afternoon at Laguna Seca. A freshly-repaved track surface allowed for nearly every one of the 27 drivers to surpass the previous IndyCar course record of 1’07.772, set in 2000 by Helio Castroneves.

Christian Lundgaard set the new course record in the second round of qualifying with a time of 1’06.461 and it looked as if he’d take the pole in the Fast Six with a time of 1:06.748. But within seconds, Lundgaard was knocked off the top spot by Rosenqvist, with a pole-winning lap of 1’06.642.

It was Rosenqvist’s second pole of the year, and it came just days after the Swedish driver announced that he would be leaving McLaren to join Meyer Shank in 2024. McLaren has not yet won a race this season in IndyCar – while Rosenqvist is trying to break a winless drought dating back to July 2020 when he won the second race of a double-header at Road America.

Scott McLaughlin missed out on pole by less than one-hundredth of a second, ending the session in second place, with Lundgaard relegated to third on the grid. Josef Newgarden will start fourth as he looks to secure a top-three finish in the championship standings.

Championship runner-up Scott Dixon will start fifth, lining up alongside the newly-crowned, two-time IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou – who won here last year by a crushing margin – in sixth.

Juri Vips was the fastest rookie with a seventh-place qualifying effort. However, he is one of three drivers that will have to serve a six-place grid penalty for an unapproved engine change. Vips will start 13th behind a few notable drivers that did not advance to the Fast Six session: Rinus VeeKay in seventh, Will Power in eighth, Romain Grosjean in ninth, then Pato O’Ward, Graham Rahal, and two-time Laguna Seca winner Colton Herta who will round out the rest of the top twelve starters.

Vips leads the group of five cars and drivers that are battling to secure the final two positions in the IndyCar Leaders Circle and an accompanying $910,000 USD bonus prize. Alongside him is Marcus Armstrong in 14th, who is trying to secure Rookie of the Year honours.

Agustin Canapino will start 19th after a similar six-place grid penalty for an engine change: He is second to Armstrong in the Rookie of the Year table and his number 78 car is also below the top 22 in entrant points for the Leaders Circle.

Unfortunately for previous course record holder Castroneves, he’ll start 27th and last in his last race as a full-time IndyCar competitor after he spun off into the gravel in turn four just two minutes into the Group 2 phase of first-round qualifying, and brought out a red flag. Ryan Hunter-Reay also spun in Group 1 and brought out a red flag when his car stopped just beyond the final corner.

The combination of high surface temperatures in excess of 50°C and the new surface made the track very treacherous for drivers who stepped over the limit. In total, nine different drivers went off track or spun at some point throughout both practice sessions and qualifying: Castroneves, Hunter-Reay, VeeKay, Newgarden, Rahal, Herta, O’Ward, Power and Grosjean.

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Grand Prix of Monterey starting grid

16Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
23Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
345Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
42Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
59Scott DixonGanassiHonda
610Alex PalouGanassiHonda
721Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
812Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
928Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
105Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
1115Graham RahalRLLHonda
1226Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
1330Juri VipsRLLHonda
1411Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
157Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
1627Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
1714Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
188Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
1978Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2077Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2160Tom BlomqvistMeyer ShankHonda
2218David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
2355Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2451Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
2520Ryan Hunter-ReayCarpenterChevrolet
2629Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
2706Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda


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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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One comment on “Rosenqvist takes last-second pole in final IndyCar start for McLaren”

  1. Felix was magnanimous in his interview afterwards. He’s been fired by Mclaren for probably a marginally worse driver (Malukas) and has had to sign for one of the worst teams on the grid, so he must have been so very tempted to take a snipe at his team for firing him despite this being his 2nd pole this season. They don’t seem to have seen how unlucky he’s been this year.

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