ALEXANDER ROSSI EARNS FIRST INDYCAR CAREER POLE IN WATKINS GLEN
After successful and fast practices on both Friday and Saturday, it was time to chase down the starting positions for Sunday's 60-lap race. Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato ran Round 1 of qualifying in Group 1, while Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay headed out in Group 2. When Group 1 was complete, Rossi topped the charts as he and Sato advanced into the second round. Hunter-Reay was second quickest in Group 2, also moving on to the second round of qualifying. Andretti settled for a 20th starting position after missing Round 2 by 0.676 seconds.
After Round 2, both Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato advanced to their third and fifth Firestone Fast Six of 2017. Ryan Hunter-Reay missed the final round of qualifying by only three one-thousandths of a second. As time expired in the final round of qualifying, Rossi was still running his final lap. Rob Edwards, strategist on the No. 98 car came over the radio told Rossi he needed to find one-tenth of a second to take the pole position from Scott Dixon. On the final turn of that lap, Rossi made up that pace and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:22.4639, just 0.0529 seconds faster than Dixon, earning his first Verizon IndyCar Series pole. Takuma Sato earned the fourth starting position.
“[The last lap] was the big lap we needed," said Rossi. "The lap before was pretty good, but they came on the radio and said, ‘you need at least a tenth.’ So, we went for it, dug deep. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Honda had been so good since we rolled off, we were never lower than fifth [on the time charts]. It’s amazing to finally accomplish this, especially on the back of the announcement we made on Friday. I think it had been a long time coming, so it’s just nice to finally get the pole. The whole team has been working so hard, and they deserved to be up front.”