Alex Palou has earned his first NTT IndyCar Series pole position for the Grand Prix of Portland with a stunning lap time of 58.770s.
Despite having not driven the 1.96-mile circuit beforehand and suffering a crash in morning practice, the Spaniard dug deep to put his No.10 Chip Ganassi Honda at the front of the field.
This is Palou’s first road course pole position and the first he has earned on the race track after being handed his maiden pole position at the first race at Texas Motor Speedway after the order was made on championship standings.
Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi will join him in the front row with his best qualifying performance of the season so far, narrowly missing out on the top spot by just 0.087s.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon initially looked set to take his first road course pole position since Watkins Glen in 2016, but some minor errors meant the Kiwi came up just short in the determinant session.
Graham Rahal was another driver who secured a personal best qualifying in 2021, he will start from fifth ahead of Colton Herta who tried to run the session on fresh primary Firestones which proved unsuccessful.
Two other title contenders dropped themselves out of contention for pole by failing to advance past the Fast 12. Current points leader Pato O’Ward qualified in seventh, and Chip Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson will start tenth.
The Mexican had appeared to make it into the Fast 6, however, his Arrow McLaren SP team-mate Felix Rosenqvist dropped O’Ward out of the session with his final run by just 0.011s.
Ed Jones will line up eighth ahead of Oliver Askew who will see out the remaining three races in the No.45 HyVee-Honda with Rahal Letterman Lanigan.
The second group of Q1 was very lively with several drivers trying to get a clean run, but it was title contender Josef Newgarden who was the shock exit from the session and will start from 17th.
There was a dispute between Penske’s Scott McLaughlin and Dale Coyne’s Romain Grosjean over potential blocking during the first group of qualifying.
Stewards eventually deemed the Frenchman to have impeded McLaughlin, despite both drivers failing to make the Fast 12, Grosjean lost his two fastest laps which dropped him four positions in the group meaning he will start much further back in the field.
The Grand Prix of Portland is scheduled to get underway Sunday at 15:00 EDT.