Typically the softer alternate tires are the preferred compound for setting a single fast lap, but the RLL squad saw something in practice and left a fresh set of black tires for themselves for Rahal’s final run.
He was the only driver to attempt to use the harder tire at all in the final round, and it worked out quite well for him.
The pole is Rahal’s second of the season, and allows his team to continue a run of good results in recent months.
Scott McLaughlin set the second fastest time with a lap that was three hundredths of a second slower, and rued the fact that he ruined a set of tires on one of his fast lap attempts.
Colton Herta followed closely with a lap that earned him a spot on the second row.
The two remaining title contenders Scott Dixon and Alex Palou earned the fourth and fifth spots respectively. As long as Palou can stay close to Dixon on Sunday, he will be able to wrap up the championship a week early.
Rounding out the Fast Six was Pato O’Ward, who was the only representative from Arrow McLaren to make it to the final round.
Josef Newgarden looked like he would be able to advance to the final round and contend for the pole, but a small mistake ended his day early.
He pushed a bit too hard through the final corner in the second round, slid through the grass, and ended up colliding with the tire barriers. He will start from the 12th position.
His team-mate Will Power also missed out on the Fast Six, missing the cut by just over one tenth of a second.
After spending much of the season wishing he had better qualifying results, Callum Ilott put his Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevy onto the fourth row and gives himself an advantageous starting spot for Sunday.
Juri Vips, in his IndyCar debut, put the #30 RLL Honda in the 18th starting spot. The effort shows that he still has considerable skills after nearly a year away from racing.
Unfortunately, the driver with the next shortest tenure did not have such a good run. Tom Blomqvist struggled to hit his marks consistently in his second IndyCar qualifying, and put his car in the final starting spot.
Drivers will have a short warm-up session later on Saturday afternoon, before the race gets underway Sunday at 12:30 PM Pacific Time.