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IndyCar Long Beach starting lineup: Kyle Kirkwood takes pole; Marcus Ericsson second

Kyle Kirkwood will lead the field to green for the Grand Prix of Long Beach with Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean following him on the grid.

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- For the first time in his brief NTT IndyCar Series career, Kyle Kirkwood will lead the starting lineup to the green flag in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Kirkwood, 24, became the series’ third pole-sitter through three races this season. His Andretti Autosport crew erupted in celebration, and he immediately was congratulated by teammate Romain Grosjean and team owner Michael Andretti.

“I am just ecstatic at the moment,” Kirkwood said. “I couldn’t be happier with this, the third weekend with the team.”

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for Long Beach qualifying speeds | Round 1, Group 1 | Round 1, Group 2 | Round 2 l Round 3

PRIMARY OR ALTERNATE: Tire designations for the starting lineup

Kirkwood was part of the Andretti development system but after winning the Lights championship in 2021 had to leave the organization because it didn’t have an IndyCar seat for him to be promoted. So he spent last year with AJ Foyt Racing until Andretti could bring him back this season as the replacement for Alexander Rossi.

Andretti two weeks ago made a strategist change for Kirkwood and Colton Herta, swapping team leaders ahead of the race at Texas Motor Speedway. Kirkwood was given Bryan Herta, Colton’s father, who has guided two different drivers to Indianapolis 500 wins.

“Right now it’s working out really well,” Andretti said. “Bryan being on his radio will be a lot more beneficial for Kyle and the organization. He’s great for a young driver and he helped Colton when he started out. We just felt it was better for the team.”

Marcus Ericsson, winner of the season-opening race, qualified second for Chip Ganassi Racing and was followed by Grosjean. Ganassi drivers Alex Palou and Scott Dixon qualified fourth and fifth as Honda drivers took the top five spots.

LONG BEACH PRIMER: Details, schedules for watching IndyCar this weekend

Pato O’Ward, the IndyCar points leader after back-to-back runner-up finishes to start the season, qualified sixth and was the only Chevrolet to advance into the “Fast Six” round. O’Ward had dominated every session until the final round of qualifying, when he seemed to lock his tires and fell out of pole-winning contention.

No Team Penske cars advanced into the Fast Six round of qualifying. Will Power was eliminated in the first round, Scott McLaughlin was eliminated in the second round and defending race winner Josef Newgarden was bounced in the final minute of the third round.

Newgarden will start eighth on Sunday.

Also knocked out of the third session was Colton Herta, who won at Long Beach in 2021 and dominated the weekend last year until he crashed out of the race.

There was some controversy in a Saturday morning practice as Callum Ilott demanded IndyCar pay for damages to his No. 77 Chevrolet after he crashed because a piece of curbing was added to the track overnight.

The curbing was not present in Friday’s opening 75-minute session because it had been damaged in an earlier session with sports cars on track. The curbing was reinstalled overnight, but teams apparently were not informed of the alteration.

“I was doing the same line as (Friday). I don’t understand what happened, but I took off when I hit the curb,” Ilott told NBC Sports on Peacock. “And if they didn’t tell us (about a change), then they can pay for the damage, because that’s a joke. It sets everyone on the back foot.

“I’m sorry to everyone on the team, but again, I was just doing the same thing as (Friday). If they changed something and didn’t tell us, what can I do about that?”

Ilott took to Twitter to demand an explanation from IndyCar and the race promoters for the track alteration that also caused Rinus VeeKay to crash.

“Preferably before the session next time. Saves everyone from broken wrists and tens of thousands in damage,” Ilott said in the tweet he later deleted.

The curbing was present during Thursday’s track walk - when teams and drivers walk the course examine it - and was part of the course for last year’s race. Because the curbing had been there for all teams to see on Thursday, IndyCar did not feel it was necessary to notify teams about the overnight change.

However, teams were informed about new paint around the pit exit and Turn 1 to better delineate the boundary lines.

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine and speed):


1. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 1:06.2878 (106.879 mph)
2. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 1:06.3253 (106.819)


3. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 1:06.5347 (106.483 mph)
4. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 1:06:5549 (106.450)


5. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:06.5730 (106.422)
6. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 1:06.6039 (106.372)


7. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 1:06.6431 (106.310)
8. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:06.6452 (106.306)


9. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 1:06.7251 (106.179)
10. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 1:06.7317 (106.168)


11. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 1:07.1049 (105.578)
12. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 1:09.7839 (101.525)


13. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:07.2681 (105.322)
14. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 1:06.8010 (106.058)


15. (30) Jack Harvey, Honda, 1:07.3150 (105.248)
16. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 1:06.9385 (105.840)


17. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 1:07.3957 (105.122)
18. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 1:06.9517 (105.820)

ROW 10

19. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 1:07.8796 (104.373)
20. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 1:07.0294 (105.697)

ROW 11

21. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 1:07.9105 (104.326)
22. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1:07.0490 (105.666)

ROW 12

23. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 1:08.2970 (103.735)
24. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:07.0909 (105.600)

ROW 13

25. (18) David Malukas, Honda, no time
26. (78) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 1:07.5956 (104.812)

ROW 14

27. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 1:07.6986 (104.652)