Alexander Rossi led the championship point standings going into wet qualifying sessions for Sunday’s second Detroit Grand Prix race and took the pole to keep his lead.
Rain poured for close to an hour before the 10:45 a.m. session and left the track soaked, but that didn’t slow down Rossi in the second qualifying group.
Robert Wickens seemed to have no fear in the first qualifying session and posted the fastest lap time, beat by Rossi’s 1:33.3143.
During the first session, Tony Kanaan brought out an early red flag. Per IndyCar rules, he lost his two fastest laps (though he hadn’t finished one yet) and was not permitted to continue.
Ryan Hunter-Reay also had trouble throughout the first session, causing two local yellows. He was assessed a penalty by the race stewards and lost his two fastest laps at the point of the second caution.
“We just didn’t have it,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s unfortunate, but we have a fast race car (for the race).”
Rene Binder and Juncos Racing chose to not qualify.
The cars continued to slide around the track during the second qualifying session. Josef Newgarden kept too much speed into Turn 11 and buried the nose of his car in the tire barrier, bringing out a red flag with three minutes remaining. Safety crews were unable to clear him from the track quick enough to return to green flag racing.
The Detroit GP pole is Rossi’s third career pole and his second of 2018. His first pole of the season was at Long Beach. Andretti Autosport sweeps the Belle Isle weekend poles and gained their 37th pole overall.
For Canadian driver Wickens, this was only his second time driving an IndyCar on a wet track.
“It was a tough session,” said Wickens. “But we have a good car going into this afternoon.”
Rossi credited the new Firestone rain tire for its predictability.
“There was a lot of grip from the moment you left the pit,” he said.
The series takes the green flag at 3:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon.