Rinus VeeKay stormed to his second IndyCar pole position at Barber Motorsports Park in an ultra-dramatic session ahead of Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou.
VeeKay set a very impressive 1:06.2507 in the Firestone Fast 6 after a mediocre start to the campaign.
The Dutchman went marginally quicker than O’Ward as Colton Herta and Romain Grosjean failed to make the Fast 6.
The pole-sitter spoke to the media after qualifying including MotorLat and discussed Firestone’s brand new tires for the race weekend at Barber
“I felt yesterday when we went out there with black tire, I struggled with how load the grip was. We had less grip on the black tire Veekay said.
“I struggled a little bit. I had to adjust my driving to it a little bit.
“Then going to the reds, that was actually the normal step that it always is. The only thing that's a question mark for everyone is the tire degradation.
“They say it's improved for both compounds. Yeah, I think everyone is going to find out how it is in warmup.”
VeeKay also shed light on how much momentum the pole position could give him heading into the month of May: “It gives me a lot of good momentum, of course.
“This is the first road course of the season. Coming into Indy Grand Prix, I think you're basically kind of on the same setup. Gives me good confidence going through there.
“I think this is definitely -- momentum always helps, positive vibes in the team, everyone being happy. I think this definitely helps. I think we can carry it through all the way till hopefully the end of the season.”
O’Ward drove to P2 in qualifying and talked about how assured he is with the car and difference in lap time compared to last year.
“Yeah, the car has been feeling well. We rolled off the truck really strong. We haven't made much changes, just kind of see where the track was going" O'ward stated in the post-qualifying press conference.
“I'm comfortable with it. A little different with how this tire compound likes to be driven compared to last year. There's been a bit of a shift there.
“In terms of lap times, I think they've been pretty close, probably half a second off last year. I can't remember. They're close enough to feel similar.”
Herta will start in P10 tomorrow in the Andretti Autosport car. He got caught out in the Fast 12 by Marcus Ericsson who caused a red flag in the dying embers of the session.
The American looked supremely quick in practice but has a tall order to fight for the top positions, particularly on a track that’s so tough to overtake on.
Callum Ilott continued his admirable start to the season for Juncos Hollinger Racing dragging his car into the Fast 12.
Ilott out-qualified the much more experienced Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves on his first visit to Barber and qualified as the fastest rookie.