Kyle Kirkwood storms to first INDYCAR pole in Long Beach

By: Spencer Neff
April 15, 2023

Qualifying Results Tire Selections

Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood will start his first Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with his team on the pole.

Posting a best lap of 1m06.2878 (106.879) during the six-minute final session, the Jupiter, Florida native earned the NTT P1 Award for the first time in his 20th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start.

At this year’s season opener, the driver of the No. 27 Dallara-Honda started a previous best of fifth after a crash during the final session. He would end the race 15th. Andretti Autosport has won both poles for the street course rounds contested in 2023. This is their fifth pole at Long Beach and their fourth in the last five races.

On Sunday, the four-car team will go for its sixth win on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn California temporary street course.

In his Long Beach debut last year, Kirkwood started 12th and earned a career-best finish of 10th with A.J. Foyt Racing.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson earned his best start on a road or street course, slotting in .0375 of a second back of Kirkwood to join him on the front row.

Finishing out the Fast Six on Saturday afternoon were the Hondas of Romain Grosjean, Alex Palou, and Scott Dixon. Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward rounded out the Fast Six.

Kirkwood climbs from his car after securing his first INDYCAR pole (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

Round 3-Fast Six

Fast Six Results

Kirkwood’s fresh alternate Firestone tires proved critical during the six-minute final session, as he used the advantage to mount a late charge to his first career pole. Ericsson, winner in St. Petersburg, matches his previous best start in second (WWTR-2022).

Grosjean lines up behind his teammate with Ericsson’s teammates Palou and Dixon fourth and fifth. After posting the fastest times in both Friday and Saturday’s practices, O’Ward’s entry is the fastest Chevrolet in the field.

Round 2-Fast 12

(Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Round 2 Results

Grosjean would lead the way for drivers advancing to the Fast Six, posting a best lap of 1m06.3246 (106.820 mph). Last year’s runner-up would be joined by O’Ward, Kirkwood, Ericsson, Palou and Dixon.

Colton Herta was assessed a penalty early on after causing a local yellow and was forced to drive-through on pit lane.

Per Rule

“If a Car causes a Yellow Condition that requires another Car to comply with Rule, the Car’s best-timed lap to that point during that Qualifications segment shall be disallowed, regardless of whether the other Car complied with Rule If the Car does not have a timed lap recorded when causing the Yellow Condition, a Black Flag drive-through penalty will be assessed once the lap on which the Yellow Condition occurred has been completed.”

With 53 second remaining, Armstrong locked up his brakes and nosed his No 11 Dallara-Honda into the Turn 9 tire barriers. In accordance with Rule 8.3.6, he was penalized:

“If a Car causes a Red Condition in any segment, the Car’s best two (2) timed laps of the segment shall be disallowed, the Car may not continue in the segment, and the Car shall not advance to the next segment.”

Despite the penalty, he starts a career-best 12th in his second INDYCAR race. He will be the best qualified of the four-man rookie class, as he was in St. Petersburg. Ahead of him in positions 7-11 will be Herta, Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin, Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi.

Round 1-Group 1

(Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

Group 1 Results

Kirkwood led a Honda sweep of the Top 3 with a best lap of 1m06.5593 (106.443 mph), leading Ericsson, Herta, Rosenqvist, Rossi and Newgarden into Round 2.

Will Power, Jack Harvey, Christian Lundgaard, Rinus VeeKay, Sting Ray Robb, Benjamin Pedersen and David Malukas failed to advance. They will start on the inside of Rows 7-13.

One-third of the way into the 10-minute opening session, Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsport’s Malukas made contact with the Turn 9 wall. On his next lap, the driver of the No. 18 made heavy contact with the rear of his car in Turn 4. Malukas relayed that the medical staff will monitor him in the lead up to Sunday’s race.

The ensuing red flag meant that he will be relegated to 27th on the grid, pursuant to rule 8.3.6, similar to Armstrong in Round 2.

Round 1-Group 2

(Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Group 2 Results

Palou would finish ahead of Scott Dixon in a 1-2 for CGR during the session. Palou’s best lap during the 10-minute session was 1m06.3995 (106.700 mph) . Run without incident, O’Ward, Armstrong, Grosjean and McLaughlin also moved on to Round 2.

Unable to advance were Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Santino Ferrucci, Devlin DeFrancesco, Callum Ilott, Graham Rahal, Agustin Canapino and Conor Daly. They will start outside Rows 7-14 for tomorrow’s race. Group 2 was run without a major incident. With the field set for tomorrow, race day preparations will be dialed in throughout the next 21+ hours.

Up Next

Here is the schedule for tomorrow. All times listed are local track times (Pacific). Continue with IndyCar1909 and all our platforms for the latest on the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Sunday, April 16

9-9:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock (live)

Noon – Driver introductions

Noon – NBC on air

12:38 p.m. – Start engines command

12:45 p.m. – Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 laps/167.28 miles), NBC and Peacock (live)

Header Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR


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