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Felix Rosenqvist surpasses Will Power for Meyer Shank Racing’s first IndyCar pole

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LONG BEACH, Calif. — Felix Rosenqvist’s fast start to 2024 in his new home continues.

The IndyCar veteran took his sixth career IndyCar pole on Saturday, putting him 0.0039 seconds ahead of the series’ all-time pole leader Will Power on Saturday’s 1.968-mile course on the streets of Long Beach. achieved. his eight years in the sport.

The quest now, after starting on pole five times in IndyCar with a best finish of 8th and three finishes of 19th or worse, is to get the deal done. This would mark the second victory for both sides in IndyCar, with Rosenqvist coming with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2020 and MSR with Helio Castroneves in the Indy 500 in 2021.

“That’s what keeps me up at night,” Rosenqvist said after securing his start on the front row. “Trying to convert. That’s the big question, and we certainly feel like we’re in a good place. We feel like the car is behaving really well, and it looks like it’s good on the tires. There there are certainly a lot of people trying to make that happen right now.

“I feel like I have the team behind me and this year I am in charge, and it has worked well.”

Rosenqvist’s pole continues strong qualifying form for the No. 60 Honda program that began with a front row start in St. Pete – just 0.0058 seconds off Josef Newgarden’s pole – followed by pole for his heat race at The Thermal Club to start the $1 million challenge.

“I have a lot of respect for Power and the laps he can put in. This is not easy,” said Rosenqvist. “Every round you’re flirting with the walls. But that was a fun one.”

For Power, who put his Team Penske crew through the wringer Saturday morning after hitting the Turn 8 wall twice in practice — including a final hit that spun him and led to him crunching the car’s nose — started front row in Sunday’s Grand Prix comes as a welcome return to the pointy end of the grid, having achieved a single Fast Six on road and street circuits a year ago.

“Story of my life lately,” Power said after jumping out of the car. “But I’ll actually take a top 6. Just to get back into the Fast 6 is a big deal for me. I’m super excited to switch. Felix must have done a phenomenal lap. I couldn’t choose anywhere where I made a mistake, but it was good to get the Verizon car back in the front row.

“It’s a long time ago.”

Newgarden, who went on to lead 92 of the 100 laps in St. Pete and win from pole, will start on the inside of Row 2 on Sunday and share the row with 2021 Long Beach winner Colton Herta. Marcus Ericsson, Herta’s teammate who finished on the podium last year to break a 1-2-4 Andretti finish, will start 5th alongside his ex-CGR teammate Alex Palou, the defending series champion.

Christian Lundgaard (7th), Scott Dixon (8th), Marcus Armstrong (9th), Kyle Kirkwood (10th), Scott McLaughlin (11th) and Graham Rahal (12th) also made Saturday’s Fast 12 and will make up rows 4-6 on Sunday .

Plenty of frustration for Arrow McLaren in qualifying

At the other end of the spectrum, Arrow McLaren drivers and team officials were left scratching their heads after a frustrating Round 1 of qualifying that saw the trio of cars eliminated. Alexander Rossi will take the lead for the team, starting 13th after finishing less than 5 hundredths behind Rahal and having the option to move into Group 1 from Round 1.

“I just miss the overall pace, man. We’ve had a few moments where it’s been OK, but we’re struggling for grip,” he said after his No. 7 side finished 7th and 10th in the weekend’s two practices. “I don’t know, there’s not much we can do.”

Pato O’Ward, who shares the seventh row with Rossi, started 14th, finished by a similar margin after transferring from his own Round 1 group, but came away seemingly more confident in what the three-car team could do on Sunday reaches.

“I wasn’t unhappy with (my run),” he said. “To be honest, we were just slow, just not fast enough. There’s no real explanation for that. We went the wrong way in workout #2 and then went back to what we had yesterday and just missed the window by a bit.

“We’re not missing a tenth. It’s three tenths, but the race is a different monster. Just try to prepare for what the race will usually be. We just have to focus on tomorrow and find our way forward with spirit.” If our race car is good we can do it, but we just have to make sure we can get into that window.”

Theo Pourchaire, who will make his first career IndyCar start on Sunday in place of the still-injured David Malukas in Arrow McLaren’s No. 6 Chevy, will start 22nd.