Arrow McLaren SP driver O’Ward, who enters the weekend third in the standings, pipped Team Penske driver Will Power by just 0.006s in a remarkably tight Firestone Fast 12 session.
The polesitter in IndyCar’s last visit to the track in May, Romain Grosjean took third for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware as Rahal Letterman Lanigan rookie Lundgaard followed up his promising practice form with an impressive fourth fastest time.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, who broke his duck in May, was quickest in the session’s early runs on primary tyres before times tumbled as drivers switched to the red-walled softer compound rubber.
Almost everyone’s fastest laps came on their second flyers and it was O’Ward who emerged on top with a 1min10.714s lap, despite nearly spinning at Turn 10 on his flyer.
Power, fastest in his qualifying group, was denied his 63rd pole position by the smallest of margins, with the 2014 champion’s team unsuccessful in lobbying the stewards that O’Ward had held him up.
Grosjean was 0.027s off the pace in third, just 0.001s ahead of Lundgaard, the 20-year-old Formula 2 regular having come into the weekend with only one test at Barber Motorsports Park under his belt.
Colton Herta was fastest of the Andretti Autosport drivers in fifth, beating championship leader and leading Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Palou into sixth.
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Photo by: IndyCar Series
Eight different teams occupied as many positions, as circuit specialist Jack Harvey claimed seventh for Meyer-Shank Racing, as Conor Daly (Ed Carpenter Racing) edged May’s IMS road course winner Rinus VeeKay for eighth position.
Alexander Rossi (Andretti) failed to replicate his form in topping the second group qualifying session ahead of Lundgaard and Palou, and could only manage the tenth quickest time.
The top 12 was completed by Nashville winner Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi) and Simon Pagenaud (Penske), as several high profile names failed to progress from the first part of qualifying.
Reigning champion Scott Dixon (Ganassi) lost his best lap after a spin and will start 26th.
O’Ward’s team-mate Felix Rosenqvist beat Grosjean into fourth in the second group session, but also lost his best time when he drove pace unabated through yellow flags brought out by Dixon, leaving the second Arrow McLaren SP driver down in 19th.
Another surprise elimination was two-time champion Josef Newgarden (Penske), who caught Andretti driver James Hinchcliffe at an inconvenient moment on his flyer. He is already consigned to a six-place grid penalty and will start 20th.
Fast 12 qualifying results