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SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Rookie driver Rinus Veekay is the pole-sitter for this afternoon’s first race of the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

His lap time of 1:09.69 beat out Josef Newgarden’s top time from the first group of qualifiers. Both Veekay and Newgarden will lead the field to the green flag at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

“It was tough,” VeeKay said. “I was not very happy with the car this morning, but (Team Manager) Tim (Broyles) and I sat down and we found some great stuff. A lot of work was put in here. I put in a good lap, so I’m very happy with that. Finally, finally, my first pole.”

Colton Herta, Will Power, and Marco Andretti round out the top five. Championship points leader Scott Dixon hit a stroke of bad luck with the Takuma Sato spinning out and bringing out a red flag in the first group of qualifying.

He was unable to lay down a fast a lap on the faster red sticker tires and thus will have to start 12th. This gives Newgarden a sizeable advantage in cutting into Dixon’s lead in the championship.

“It was a good day,” Newgarden said of his qualifying effort. “Pretty happy with qualifying. Got a little bit lucky with the yellow. But I felt like we were quick on merit.”

“That’s just the way it goes sometimes, I guess,” Dixon said. “We didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe we should have tried something different with balance, but at the end of the day, we have to keep going.”

Race 1 of the doubleheader will go off this afternoon. Qualifying and the second race will happen on Saturday.