BIRMINGHAM – Qualifying at the picturesque and aptly named Barber Motorsports Park is quite important because the purpose-built motorcycle track is narrow and makes passing an artful challenge on the 2.3-mile track featuring various whimsical sculptures. That said, A.J. Foyt’s team has its work cut out for them in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst as qualifying did not go particularly well this afternoon around the 17-turn permanent road course.
Kyle Kirkwood, who was 14th in the morning practice session, set a lap time of 1 minute, 6.82 seconds for a speed of 123.913mph. He will start 21st in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet.
“We didn’t have the best of qualifying, we finished 11th in our group,” said Kirkwood. “Not sure what the issue was. Honestly the [car’s] balance felt pretty good, we’re just lacking speed there towards the end on red tires. I think our race pace is good. We’re going to find out here in warmup but tomorrow might rain so that could throw a curveball at everyone and that could potentially help us so we’ll see what happens.”
Dalton Kellett will start directly behind Kirkwood in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet after posting a lap time of 1 minute, 7.68 seconds and speed of 123.328mph. He will start 23rd.
“Not the qualifying session we were looking for,” said Kellett, adding, “It was the whole Foyt team really, we seemed to struggle out there. The car felt alright but the pace wasn’t there so that’s something to look at between the three cars and see what we can come up with for warmup. We’ll test a couple things for the race tomorrow. It probably looks like a two-stop race so we’ll be working on fuel mileage stuff and see what we can come up with from a setup standpoint.”
Tatiana Calderón will start 25th in her No. 11 ROKiT Chevrolet with her lap time of 1 minute, 7.92 seconds and speed of 121.900mph.
“I think we’ve been making steps forward,” said Calderón. “I’m more comfortable with the balance of the car. We still need to find a little bit more grip, particularly with the red tires so that’s something to work on towards the free practice three [final warmup] to prepare for the race. I think we’re making steps forward and that’s the most important thing. We’ll see what the weather does tomorrow,” she offered, adding with a smile, “It should be an interesting race.”
Rinus Veekay won his second career NTT P1 Award by winning the pole with Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet after laying down a lap time of 1 minute, 6.25 seconds (124.980mph). Filling out the Firestone Fast Six were Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou, Scott McLaughlin, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist.
The race will be broadcast on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network starting at 1:00 p.m. ET with the green flag set to wave at 1:15 p.m. ET.