IndyCar Barber starting lineup: Romain Grosjean on pole position for Andretti


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Romain Grosjean will take another turn to lead the NTT IndyCar Series starting lineup for Andretti Autosport, winning the pole position at Barber Motorsports Park.

The former Formula 1 driver and Swiss-born Frenchman is trying to duplicate teammate Kyle Kirkwood’s pole-to-win performance after claiming the pole position for Sunday’s IndyCar race.

Grosjean emerged with his third pole and second of the season on Saturday after some of the biggest names failed to make it to the final round, including points leader and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, three-time champion Josef Newgarden and two-time winner Will Power.

QUALIFYING RESULTSClick here for Barber qualifying speeds | Round 1, Group 1 | Round 1, Group 2 | Round 2 l Round 3

PRIMARY OR ALTERNATETire designations for the starting lineup

Grosjean, who finished second to Kirkwood at Long Beach, won the pole for the opener at St. Petersburg but finished 18th after colliding with Scott McLaughlin. Now, he’ll look for his first IndyCar win on the physically challenging permanent road course.

If the 37-year-old is in a better mood at the track these days than 2022, it’s no surprise.

“I’m enjoying myself in the car, which last year was not the case,” said Grosjean, whose contract runs through this year. “Last year, I joined the team to try win races and poles and then win the championship. I was struggling with balance.

INDYCAR AT BARBERHow to watch, schedules, start times for the race weekend

“I just couldn’t get (the car) to do what I wanted. That plays a big role in your personality.”

Grosjean produced a fast lap of 1 minute, 5.8396 seconds.

Hondas make up the front row. Alex Palou, who won at Barber in 2021 on his way to a series championship, qualified second. He qualified third in his first two visits to the picturesque track, finishing first and second. This is his first front-row start since last year’s Indy 500.

“I guess it’s the closest we have to Europe and that’s where I grew up racing,” Palou said. “That’s the reason why I love this place.”

Defending champion Pato O’Ward was third, followed by McLaughlin, six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Christian Lundgaard. Dixon has six runners-up finishes at Barber but is still seeking his first win at the course.

Newgarden starts seventh, Power 11th and Ericsson 13th.

“I’m frustrated and annoyed, mostly at myself,” Newgarden said. “The car was really phenomenal. There was nothing wrong with our PPG car. It’s just disappointing to not transfer.”

No driver has come from outside the top 10 to win at Barber, though Power started ninth en route to his second straight Alabama victory in 2012. Five of the 12 winners started on the pole, and four others opened among the top three qualifiers.

There have been eight different pole-sitters in the past eight years at Barber. As usual, it could come down to different strategies of whether to take two pit stops or three.

“That’s the beauty of IndyCar,” Grosjean said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

Power and VeeKay had a run-in when the latter attempted to pass on the out lap starting Round 2. Last year’s pole winner, VeeKay said he might have violated a gentleman’s agreement to not make such a move “but am I a gentleman?”

“No hard feelings, I guess, both ways,” VeeKay said. “I’m coming from the back. I’m the last one in line so I just want to get a good gap in the field. I did it last year and got a pole so why not pass everyone on the out lap?

“Will got a little heated, but that’s Will. That’s why he’s got a red car, right? It wasn’t meant to (tick) anyone off, but I had to do something to get my place on the track and I got that third lap out of there because of that.”

Power was seeking his fifth pole at Barber.

Ericcson’s 2022 season took off in May with one strong finish followed by the pinnacle, an Indianapolis 500 win.

The Swedish driver is already off to a great start despite the struggles in qualifying, with the return to Indy looming. Ericsson, who got married on March 11, won the opener at St. Petersburg.

“Obviously winning the 500, it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Ericsson, who finished fourth at last year’s Grand Prix of Indy before winning the big one. “I was still a bit disappointed with the end of the season, how I sort of fell off a little bit in the championship fight. I worked very hard this winter to improve that and look at the areas where I needed to improve.”

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


1. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:05.8396 (125.760)
2. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:05.9130 (125.620)


3. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:05.9382 (125.572)
4. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:05.9515 (125.547)


5. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:06.0723 (125.317)
6. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:06.1601 (125.151)


7. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:05.9603 (125.530)
8. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:06.0930 (125.278)


9. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:06.1222 (125.223)
10. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 01:06.2091 (125.058)


11. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:06.3790 (124.738)
12. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 01:06.3963 (124.706)


13. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:05.9207 (125.605)
14. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:06.1850 (125.104)


15. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:06.0642 (125.333)
16. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:06.2433 (124.994)


17. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:06.1851 (125.104)
18. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:06.4415 (124.621)

ROW 10

19. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:06.2504 (124.980)
20. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:06.4810 (124.547)

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:06.2715 (124.941)
22. (78) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 01:06.5158 (124.482)

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 01:06.5925 (124.338)
24. (30) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:06.7181 (124.104)

ROW 13

25. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 01:06.9327 (123.706)
26. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 01:07.2378 (123.145)

ROW 14

27. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 03:49.1462 (36.134)

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.