Rookie Rosenqvist earns first pole, Dixon second

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INDIANAPOLIS -- A cold qualifying session meant Felix Rosenqvist was red hot.

Rosenqvist won the pole position Friday for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, recording a fast lap of 1 minute, 8.2785 seconds around the 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road course as the temperature struggled to stay out of the 40s.

It was the Swedish rookie’s first pole position and the 90th in Indy car racing for Chip Ganassi Racing, whose five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon joined Rosenqvist on the front row for the start of Saturday’s race.

INDYCAR GRAND PRIX: Official qualifying results

It wasn’t much of a surprise, seeing that Rosenqvist and Dixon were near the top of the time sheets during two practice sessions earlier Friday.

“It’s been a really smooth day for both the 10 car (Rosenqvist) and the 9 car (Dixon),” Rosenqvist said. “We were in the top five basically every session. You still have to pull it off. It’s like if you’re one tenth off, you can fall down six spots very easily. It’s tough mentally to go through a session like that, where the lap you do might be P1 but the next time you come around you might be P5. It really puts the pressure that you need to deliver a lap.”

Following Rosenqvist and Dixon on the grid was Jack Harvey, whose best lap was just 0.0259 seconds behind Dixon and good enough for third, the best start of Harvey's career.

“The pieces have started to come together really well now,” said Harvey, who was clocked at 1:08.3238 in the No. 60 SiriusXM Michael Shank Racing with Arrow SPM Honda. “We tested well last week, so I think we came into the weekend optimistic.”

Rookie Colton Herta will start fourth. Ed Jones, the highest-qualifying Chevrolet driver, will start fifth. Will Power, last year’s INDYCAR Grand Prix winner, will start sixth.

But it was Rosenqvist, who has been impressive in his first four NTT IndyCar Series races, who found the most speed Friday, wheeling the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to a Firestone Fast Six lap that was just 0.0194 seconds faster than Dixon’s best.

The feat was made more special by the venue, which will host the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 26.

“It’s a cool feeling that it happened here,” Rosenqvist said. “My team is based here, and the track has the history it has. … It’s always a special feeling when you get your first pole in any series, especially this series, where it’s so tight. Personally, I really love qualifying. It’s especially satisfying when you manage to beat everyone.”

Dixon, who has won 28 pole positions in his storied career, complimented his teammate on his first.

“Both of our cars have been pretty quick, which is fun,” Dixon said. “Felix did a great job to put together a lap there. … Big congrats to him and Chip and the team. It’s good to lock up the front row.”

Several typically reliable qualifiers, including the current NTT IndyCar Series points leader and the most recent race winner, didn’t make it out of the first qualifying session. Points leader Josef Newgarden didn’t advance after being knocked out by Power, his Team Penske teammate, in the first round.

Newgarden’s best lap was nearly 0.6 seconds behind Takuma Sato, who had the fastest lap of the first Q1 session.

“We’re not even close,” Newgarden said. “Six tenths off is a big deal. I’m not really sure why that is. We’ll just go to work. … These guys are the best. We’ll make the most of it.”

Newgarden will start 13th, Helio Castroneves 15th and Rossi, who won the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 14, will start 17th. Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe didn’t advance from the second Q1 session; Hunter-Reay, who is fighting the flu, will start 16th Saturday, and Hinchcliffe will start 18th.

The entire field could be facing a cold rain Saturday. The forecast calls for rain to begin falling shortly before the start at 3:40 p.m. ET.

“The competition is amazing,” said Simon Pagenaud, who narrowly missed the Firestone Fast Six and will start eighth Saturday. “I’m pretty happy. I gave it everything I had. It was the best I could’ve done, but we just needed a little bit more.”

Saturday's coverage of the INDYCAR Grand Prix begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. The green flag is scheduled to fly at 3:50 p.m.

A final, 30-minute pre-race warmup session is scheduled for 11:15 a.m.

RaceControl.IndyCar.com offers live timing and scoring along with Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network for the warmup session and the race.

INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold offers a livestream of the warmup session, featuring the unparalleled NBC Sports broadcast talent and technical coverage. INDYCAR Pass is the direct-to-consumer package currently available to subscribers for a discounted, season-long price of $39.99.

INDYCAR Mobile powered by NTT DATA, the official app of the NTT IndyCar Series, offers live timing and scoring and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network commentary for the warmup session and the race.

INDYCAR Mobile provides the perfect second-screen race experience for the race, with select in-car cameras and radio communications from all drivers available. The app is open for free to any carrier worldwide and may be downloaded at IndyCar.com/mobile-app.

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