ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Linus Lundqvist called it one of the craziest rounds of qualifying he'd ever encountered.

And it gave the 25-year-old Swede one of the biggest highlights of his rookie season with IndyCar.

Lundqvist earned his first career pole on a rainy Saturday at Road America after posting a lap of 1 minute, 45.1519 seconds on the 14-turn, 4.014-mile road course. He's the first rookie to win a pole since Romain Grosjean in the Indianapolis Grand Prix in May 2021.

“Growing up in Sweden, half the races we did were in the rain," Lundqvist said. “I'm pretty comfortable there.”

The unpredictable conditions caused problems for the drivers. Late in the final qualifying session, Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden spun off the track and crashed the side of his Chevrolet into a barrier on Turn 2.

Newgarden visited the IndyCar medical unit before getting released. He will use a backup car on Sunday, though he maintains his qualifying position of sixth.

“I feel like an idiot,” Newgarden said. “I just got a little bit wide. You can’t do that in this condition. Look, this is IndyCar. It gets tight. I pushed it a little too far there.”

Lundqvist's emergence Saturday was a major surprise. His only career IndyCar top-10 finish was a third on April 28 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

He has finished outside the top 20 in three races since.

“The month of May was kind of rough for us,” Lundqvist said. “I kind of came in wanting to rebuild my confidence.”

Before this weekend, Lundqvist's best starting position in IndyCar was 17th.

Andretti Global's Colton Herta, who had the pole at Road America last year, will start second this time. Rounding out the top five qualifiers were Chip Ganassi Racing's Marcus Armstrong, Vasser Sullivan Racing's Kyle Kirkwood and Team Penske's Will Power.

There's no rain in Sunday's forecast, which would be a contrast from what drivers encountered Saturday.

A steady downpour led to four red flags during the morning practice session, with Alex Palou, Pietro Fittipaldi and Kyle Kirkwood going off course. Palou caused a second red flag when he was stopped on course at Turn 1.

The rain slowed down a bit by the time qualifying began in the afternoon, but the track remained wet, making it it difficult for drivers. It started getting drier as the afternoon wore on.

“Probably one of the — if not the — most difficult qualifying sessions for me in IndyCar so far,” Herta said. “Just a lot of unknowns. Unknowns of what to do with the tires, where to brake, what the line is, how many laps. So very difficult.”

DIXON LEADS POINTS RACE

Scott Dixon entered Sunday with an 18-point lead over Palou, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, in the standings. He is seeking his seventh IndyCar championship, which would match A.J. Foyt's record.

“I’m honestly just focusing on this weekend,” Dixon said. “We’ll see where it goes later in the year.”

Dixon overtook Palou for the lead by winning the Detroit Grand Prix last weekend to become the first driver with multiple victories this season. Going back to last season, Dixon has won five of the last 10 IndyCar races.

Palou was 16th in Detroit, the first time he had finished lower than eighth since he was 12th at Portland in September 2022. Palou won at Road America last year and went on to capture the points title.

Palou qualified seventh and Dixon 10th for Sunday's race.

CANAPINO’S EXIT, SIEGEL’S CHANCE

Rookie Nolan Siegel will be driving for Juncos Hollinger Racing in place of Agustín Canapino, who is taking a leave of absence from IndyCar. Juncos Hollinger announced the move Friday after Canapino cast doubt on rival driver Théo Pourchaire’s reports of receiving death threats online from Canapino fans earlier in the week over an on-track incident between the two at Detroit.

The firestorm caused Arrow McLaren Racing to terminate its technical and marketing relationship with JHR. Pourchaire is the reigning F2 champion recently hired by McLaren.

Pato O’Ward, also with Arrow McLaren, said this week that Pourchaire remains in good spirits.

“Same ‘Teddy Porkchop’ that I knew a few weeks ago,” O’Ward said. “He’s a cool guy.”

Siegel’s opportunity to race at the IndyCar level this weekend prompted the 19-year-old to withdraw from Sunday’s Indy NXT event. Kiko Porto will be racing in Siegel’s place.

LONGER STAY IN WISCONSIN

Many of the drivers competing this weekend will remain in Wisconsin for a couple days afterward to participate in open testing Tuesday for the Milwaukee Mile, a one-mile oval at Wisconsin State Fair Park that hosts an IndyCar doubleheader on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

That doubleheader will mark IndyCar’s first event at the 121-year-old track since 2015.

ANOTHER NEW WINNER?

Sunday marks the seventh of 17 races on IndyCar’s 2024 schedule, and there already have been five winners: Dixon ( Long Beach and Detroit), O’Ward ( St. Petersburg ), Scott McLaughlin ( Birmingham ), Palou ( Indy Grand Prix ) and Newgarden (Indy 500).

The record number of winners in a season is 11, which happened in 2000, 2001 and 2014.

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