Felix Rosenqvist has earned a much-needed pole in qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway, where IndyCar is desperately trying to develop a second passing lane in what could be the final race for the series at the track.
Roseqnqvist turned a lap at 221.110 mph (355.842km/h) in his Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and the time stood as 16 drivers tried to knock him off the pole.
Scott McLaughlin, winner of the season-opening race at St. Petersburg last month, was the final driver to qualify and just missed bumping the Swede from the top starting spot.
Kiwi McLaughlin went 221.096 for Team Penske to just barely miss the pole but give Chevrolet a lockout of the front row.
Takuma Sato qualified third in a Honda for Dale Coyne Racing and was followed by Team Penske’s Australian ace Will Power as Chevrolet took three of the top four spots.
Six-time Texas winner Scott Dixon, winner of the first race in a double-header last year, qualified fifth for Chip Ganassi Racing and was followed by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves of Meyer Shank Racing.
For Rosenqvist, it was his second career pole since joining IndyCar in 2019. He’s coming off a terrible first season with McLaren and admitted the qualifying run on Saturday was a confidence boost.
“It’s been needed for a while,” Rosenqvist said.
IndyCar has raced at Texas since the track opened in 1997 and Sunday will mark the 35th time the top open-wheel series in the United States has competed on the oval.
Attendance has dwindled over the years and a track reconfiguration and accommodations made for NASCAR has made Texas a poor fit for IndyCar.
It makes a high line that is far too slick and dangerous for the IndyCar drivers.
Very few drivers dared to even coast into the second lane during Saturday morning practice.
“I looked at it, and almost crashed,” Alexander Rossi said.
IndyCar will attempt to make a second lane later on Saturday afternoon when seven drivers will go out for a 30-minute session to try to create grip on the track.
Drivers remained skeptical, even those who plan to run the special session.
The current contract between Texas and IndyCar expires after Sunday’s race and there’s been strong speculation if the show doesn’t improve, IndyCar won’t be returning.