Graham Rahal wins Detroit Grand Prix pole by default

David Goricki
The Detroit News


Detroit — Helio Castroneves went from celebrating to dejection when finding out his track record qualifying run was stripped away for not slowing down during a caution on his fast lap Saturday morning on Belle Isle.

Helio Castroneves, left, argues with an official after being penalized for not slowing down during a caution during qualifying for the first race of the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto racing doubleheader in Detroit. Castroneves initially won the pole but was pushed back to second after the penalty.

It had looked like Castroneves topped the field for the second straight day, winning the pole position with a track-record time of 1:13.890 on the 13-turn, 2.3-mile street course on Belle Isle. He was running among the second group of drivers.

However, after celebrating the pole, Castroneves, who competes with Chevrolet power in the No. 3 Team Penske, was told of the news that handed Graham Rahal the pole in his No. 15 Honda.

Rahal had set the qualifying record in the Group 1 session of drivers with a time of 1:13.968 in the No. 15 Honda and will sit on the front row alongside Castroneves for today’s Race No. 1 at 3:30 p.m.

It was Graham Rahal's first pole since 2009 when he competed with Newman/Haas/Lanigan and it's the first pole for the Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan team since Scott Sharp won the top spot at Texas in 2007.

"It's a little bit of uncharted territory for me," Rahal said. "The last handful of years we're used to having to charge from the back so this is a pretty welcome sight. I thought that Group 2 would get us just due to having some rubber down. At the end it was very, very, very close and we were fortunate, obviously with the penalty there (to Castroneves)."

Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner, and this year’s Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato make up the second row.
Rossi, who had a lap of 1:14.087, slighting tapped the wall, but suffered little damage to his car.

James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon will be in Row 3 with Castroneves’ teammate and defending series champion Simon Pagenaud in Row 4 with Max Chilton.

Graham Rahal poses next to his race car after gaining the pole position during qualifying Saturday for the first race of the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto racing doubleheader in Detroit.