By Steve Wittich
For the third straight Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race, Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay) sixth time this season and 13th time in his Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires career will start a race from the pole.
VeeKay’s pole-winning lap of 66.017 seconds was a dominating 0.628 seconds quicker than outside front row sitter, HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey rookie Toby Sowery.
Presumptive Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew will start behind VeeKay on the inside of row two with his Andretti Autosport teammate Robert Megennis beside him.
Today’s pole is the second at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for Speedway, Ind. based Juncos Racing. Kyle Kaiser was a pole winner at his home track in 2016.
The eight Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers were the first of three straight Road To Indy series to hit the 2.258-mile, 11-turn WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca road course for qualifying.
Because passing at the iconic circuit is difficult, the average starting position of the Indy Lights race winner at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is 1.95; qualifying is critical.
Before the halfway mark of the half-hour session, VeeKay and Sowery both spent time holding onto the provisional pole.
VeeKay’s lap of 66.6809 seconds at the 15-minute mark was two-tenths of a second ahead of Sowery. Askew was another tenth behind Sowery with Dalton Kellett and Robert Megennis.
At that point in the session, all drivers were on pit-road for adjustments and sticker tires.
The first drivers to go quicker on their fresh Cooper Tires were Sowery and Askew but were not able to surpass VeeKay who lowered the provisional pole to 66.681 seconds.
The next driver to go to the provisional pole was Kellett at 66.611 seconds. That didn’t last long before his teammate VeeKay went back to the top of the timing screen with a lap that was almost six-tenths of a second quicker than any other driver.
With just under one minute remaining the red flag and checkered flag came out for Dalton Kellett had an issue in Turn 6. The veteran Canadian was set to start on the outside of the front row but lost his quickest lap for causing the stoppage.
Qualifying results for Indy Lights race #1
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE|
|1||21||Rinus VeeKay||Juncos Racing||1:16.017||–.—-|
|2||2||Toby Sowery||HMD Motorsports/Team Pelfrey||1:16.645||0.6282|
|3||28||Oliver Askew||Andretti Autosport||1:16.792||0.7744|
|4||27||Robert Megennis||Andretti Autosport||1:16.876||0.8588|
|5||67||Dalton Kellett||Juncos Racing||1:17.038||1.0207|
|6||79||David Malukas||HMD Motorsports||1:17.410||1.3926|
|7||48||Ryan Norman||Andretti Autosport||1:17.439||1.4216|
|8||5||Lucas Kohl||Belardi Auto Racing||1:17.778||1.7609|
Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race #1 rolls off at 3:10 pm tomorrow.