Rossi with Verizon P1 Award at Watkins Glen
Alexander Rossi won his first career IndyCar pole for the 2017 INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen. | Photo: Chris Owens / INDYCAR

After three 45-minute practice sessions that featured Scott Dixon atop the combined timesheet, 21 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers hit the 3.37-mile, 11-mile road course at Watkins Glen International for three rounds of knockout qualifying topped by Alexander Rossi who won his first career pole.

Round 1

Group 1

Led early by Tony Kanaan, Rossi ended the first group’s qualifying with the fastest lap. The 1:23.0804, while off the fastest time set in practice by Dixon, was good enough to advance the No. 98 Andretti Autosport Honda into Round 2.

Josef Newgarden, Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, Charlie Kimball and Will Power moved out of Round 1 with Rossi.

Spencer Pigot, Ed Jones, Kanaan and Max Chilton failed to advance out of the first round with Chilton expressing frustration due to the No. 8 losing speed as the weekend has progressed.

Group 2

Ryan Hunter-Reay looked fast at the beginning Group 2’s 10 minutes but was soon challenged by Dixon. The two swapped the fastest lap until Dixon’s 1:23.0382 secured the top spot for the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Hunter-Reay’s best effort, a 1:23.0438, was just six-hundredths of a second off of Dixon’s pace and good enough for second fastest.

Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud and Carlos Munoz advanced with Dixon and Hunter-Reay while James Hinchcliffe, Jack Harvey, Marco Andretti and JR Hildebrand did not make the cut.

Round 2

Dixon kept up his dominance of Watkins Glen with the fastest lap in Round 2 and a new track record. The 1:22.4171, which came on the last lap turned by the four-time series champion who trails Newgarden in the points standings, was four-tenths of a second clear of Rossi.

Scott Dixon exits Turn 1 at Watkins Glen
Scott Dixon narrowly missed earning the pole at Watkins Glen despite establishing a new track record. | Photo: Mike Harding / INDYCAR

Rossi’s 1:22.7961 placed him second in Round 2 with Sato, Kimball, Castroneves and Newgarden completing the top six that moved on to the final qualifying round.

Hunter-Reay missed advancing by just 0.03 seconds and will start in the seventh position on Sunday. Power, Bourdais, Rahal, Munoz and Pagenaud qualified eighth through 12th, respectively, and will start in those positions when the 60-lap race goes green.

Notably, Bourdais completed all of Round 2 on primary black-sidewalled Firestone Firehawk tires.

Firestone Fast 6

Dixon entered the Firestone Fast 6 as the driver to beat and at the checkered flag, the track record holder’s 1:22.5168 appeared fast enough to secure his second consecutive pole at The Glen.

Alexander Rossi sails through Turn 8 at Watkins Glen
Alexander Rossi wasn’t fastest overall in qualifying but the fastest lap in the Firestone Fast 6 earned him his first pole. | Photo: Chris Owens / INDYCAR

On his last flying lap, Alexander Rossi denied Dixon with a 1:22.4639. While off Dixon’s Round 2 pace, the time was fast enough to secure Rossi’s first career pole in IndyCar competition.

Rossi admitted that his pole-winning lap was encouraged by the multiyear deal that will keep him with Andretti Autosport.

“It was a big lap we needed,” said Rossi. “The lap before was pretty good, but they came on the radio and said, ‘you need at least a tenth.’ So we went for it, dug deep, and the NAPA Auto Parts Andretti Honda has been so good since we rolled off, we’ve never been lower than fifth.

“It’s amazing to finally accomplish this, especially on the back of the announcement on Friday, and I think it’s been a long time coming, so it’s just nice to finally get that. The whole team has been working so hard, and they deserve this.”

Dixon will start on the outside of the front row with his time holding on for second fastest in Round 3.

Newgarden and Sato qualified with the third- and fourth-fastest laps, respectively, and will share the second row. Newgarden’s best time was only one ten-thousandth of a second slower than Dixon’s.

Josef Newgarden dives into Turn 8 at Watkins Glen
Championship points leader Josef Newgarden will start third in the 2017 INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen. | Photo: Chris Owens / INDYCAR

Kimball and Castroneves will start from Row 3 after setting the fifth- and sixth-fastest times, respectively.

Next up for the series is a 30-minute warm-up session at 9 a.m. EDT on Sunday morning ahead of the 1:40 p.m. command to start engines and the 1:47 p.m. green flag. Television coverage will begin at 1 p.m. on NBCSN.

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