IndyCar: NOLA qualifying canceled for severe weather; field set by entrant points, JPM on pole (VIDEO)

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AVONDALE, La. – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying was delayed, then had one group run, and then was canceled due to persistent rain and severe weather.

Juan Pablo Montoya will have the pole position, but not receive a point, as the field for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) will be set by entrant points.

Essentially, the field will mirror the results from the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which Montoya won over Team Penske teammate Will Power.

“Oh, I mean, we were lucky, but at the same time that’s why you need the points, when you have days like this, it will pay off,” Montoya said.

“I think our car was actually pretty good. I didn’t get to run the entire practice session in the morning. Like I put new tires on my fast lap I got ‑‑ you know, the red flag came out, and on the lap I was actually up to the point I was running I was on pace with Simon, and Simon was P3 or whatever he was, so I thought we had a pretty good car.”

Qualifying was due to start at 4:15 p.m. local time, but was bumped forward five minutes due to the threat of severe weather. However, that didn’t wind up happening as lightning strikes near the circuit put the qualifying on a temporary hold.

Qualifying began at 5 p.m. local time after the delay, with the first group going out in moderately wet conditions, but using Firestone’s wet compounds.

Times were nearly 20 seconds off the pace set in the dry conditions in Saturday’s third practice. At the end of group one in Q1, Sebastien Bourdais had the best time of 1:38.0125 with Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, Carlos Munoz, Will Power and James Jakes due to advance through to their group.

Bourdais, however, had an off-course excursion at Turn 1. When he re-entered the course, he was deemed by INDYCAR to have committed qualifying interference on Kanaan, interrupting the Brazilian’s lap. Subsequently, Bourdais was docked his two fastest laps in the session, and bumped back to 12th in his group.

Jakes’ Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate James Hinchcliffe would have been bumped in to advance.

In group two, the rain intensified and few realistic rain times were set. Josef Newgarden led ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, Marco Andretti and Sage Karam.

However, with increasing rain and lightning strikes at the circuit (see below screenshots from Kimball and Graham Rahal, not Hunter-Reay as it’s listed), INDYCAR officials made the decision to cancel the remainder of qualifying.

The field will be set by entrant points, with Montoya on pole after all despite a spin at the end of his session exiting Turn 1. Power will be second with Kanaan third, Helio Castroneves fourth and Simon Pagenaud fifth.

This is the first race where the grid has been set by entrant points since Toronto race two last year.

Sunday will have a slightly altered time schedule due to today’s weather:

Sunday’s Schedule (all times Central):

7:55am Pro Mazda Race#1
8:30am USF2000 Race #2
10:00-10:30am Verizon IndyCar Morning Warmup
11:45am Pro Mazda Race #2
1:45pm – Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (75 laps)

The NBCSN broadcast window is still from 1:30 to 5:00pm local time.

STARTING GRID

AVONDALE, La. – Qualifying Saturday for the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 2.74-mile NOLA Motorsports Park, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine. Field set by entrant points after qualifications were rained out.

1. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy
2. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy
3. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy
4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy
5. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy
6. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy
7. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda
8. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda
9. (20) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevy
10. (27) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda
11. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda
12. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy
13. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda
14. (26) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda
15. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy
16. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda
17. (98) Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda
18. (25) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda
19. (8) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy
20. (4) Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevy
21. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy
22. (7) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda
23. (19) Francesco Dracone, Dallara-Honda
24. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda

QUALIFYING TIMES IN GROUPS 1 AND 2, BEFORE TIMES WERE AXED

GROUP ONE
1. 10-Tony Kanaan, 1:38.3668
2. 22-Simon Pagenaud, 1:38.4420
3. 26-Carlos Munoz, 1:38.5526
4. 1-Will Power, 1:38.5766
5. 7-James Jakes, 1:39.1614
6. 5-James Hinchcliffe, 1:39.7898

7. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, 1:39.8157
8. 18-Carlos Huertas, 1:40.1864
9. 3-Helio Castroneves, 1:40.2080
10. 25-Simona de Silvestro, 1:40.2154
11. 19-Francesco Dracone, 1:40.6653
12. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 1:41.7573**

**Bourdais’ best time of 1:38.0125 and second best time invalidated for qualifying interference

GROUP TWO
1. 67-Josef Newgarden, 1:43.8783
2. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 1:46.7627
3. 9-Scott Dixon, 1:47.1617
4. 83-Charlie Kimball, 1:47.4779
5. 27-Marco Andretti, 1:48.0192
6. 8-Sage Karam, 1:49.1470

7. 14-Takuma Sato, 1:49.6570
8. 4-Stefano Coletti, 1:50.7713
9. 20-Luca Filippi, 1:51.7934
10. 98-Gabby Chaves, 1:52.6481
11. 15-Graham Rahal, 1:54.7212
12. 41-Jack Hawksworth, 1:55.9655