Firestone Fast Six
Ramon Grosjean of Andretti Autosport became the first rider to fall below the 60-second mark in the final qualifying round as all six riders took to the track on the Reds.
Hertha then reached the top with a score of 59.7104, which was eclipsed by Will Power, making a circle of 59.6847 seconds and then improved to 59.6058 seconds. But the nine-time camp from St. Pete hit sideways in turn 9 on his best lap, and it opened the door for his teammate. A lap without errors from McLaughlin led him to beat Power by 0.1237 seconds and accelerate in 59.4821 seconds, averaging 108.940 mph on the 1.8-mile, in his first race with racing engineer Ben Bretsman.
Rinus VK secured three Chevrolets in the top four with a result of 59.8102 seconds, racer Ed Carpenter beat Grozan and Honda Meyer Shan Racing Simon Pagen.
Alex Palu and Marcus Erikins have chosen the softer “reds” Firestone from the start of the Q2 segment, although Hertha has overshadowed them even in the primaries.
However, Will Power took the fastest first lap with 60.0727 seconds before heading to the reserve set. He then reduced his time to 59.3466 to lead the segment by just 0.0585 seconds, ahead of Colt Hertha, and Scott McLaughlin took a brilliant third.
Ramon Grosjean, Simon Pajena and Rinus Vicky of Ed Carpenter Racing also advanced to Firestone Fast Six.
At this stage, Ganassi’s cars swayed, but were still much stronger than in yesterday’s practice, Scott Dixon, Marcus Erickson and Alex Palu took seventh, eighth and 10th place.th respectively. Dixon admitted to trimming the wall at the entrance to Turn 9 during the primaries and then misplaced his flyers on the 2022 “red” Firestones.
Surprisingly dropped out at this stage was Joseph Newgarden of Pensky, who has twice won at St. Pete, telling NBC that he has struggled with several issues as well as traffic.
Kyle Kirkwood kicked himself, making a mistake at the last corner at the beginning of his flight lap, and he admitted that he then pushed too hard on the AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet and brushed off the exit wall from turn 9, but was content with the wind to be the fastest newcomer.
Palu, O’Ward, Erickson, McLaughlin, Power, Page, Daly, DeFrancesco, Grosjean, Malukas, Kelet, Sato, Johnson
Will Power was the fastest driver on the main tires in Group 2, with a promising 60.1685 seconds, ahead of former teammate Simon Pagno, now in Meyer Shank Racing-Honda.
At the alternative Firestones, Alex Palu showed the same improved form of Ganassi as his teammate Dixon in Group 1, despite the fact that the reigning champion got a nasty shunt this morning. Right at the end of the session Marcus Erikins confirmed Ganassi’s progress by pushing Paula to sixth place.
Ahead of the power was led by morning cardist Scott McLaughlin in Penske 1-2 with a result of 59.3929 seconds, while third was Ramen Grosjean on his refurbished Andretti Autosport-Honda, and compatriot Pajeno took fourth.
Dalton Kellet did not advance, but was nonetheless an impressive seventh, ahead of Pat O’Ward, who bent his left hind leg against the wall at turn 9.
Jimmy Johnson was last, but his best lap prevented rookie David Malukas at Dale Coyne Racing-Honda, resulting in the young man being fined.
On the harder main tires the fastest lap went to Colt Hertha, turning 60.3955 seconds, a quarter of a second faster than Rinus Vick on his Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet.
On the Reds Jack Harvey came out with his repaired car and became second in speed before Alexander Rossi and then VeeKay dived under the 60-second barrier.
The next driver to do so was Kyle Kirkwood of AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet, but his time was quickly canceled by 0.38 sec. Graham Rachel and VeeKay narrowed the gap, and Scott Dixon regained Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s hopes by jumping to fourth, but Kirkwood remained in the top six, ahead of Joseph Newgarden’s team from Penske-Chevrolet.
Puzzled Alexander Rossi was an unexpected failure to move into Q2, as was Helio Castroneves of Meyer Shank Racing.