Tuesday, May 24, 2022

McLaughlin Claims First Career IndyCar Pole at St. Petersburg

Scott McLaughlin captured his first-ever NTT IndyCar Series pole.
Scott McLaughlin edged out Team Penske teammate Will Power to claim his first-ever NTT IndyCar Series pole at St. Petersburg. Image courtesy of Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment

Scott McLaughlin came through in the final seconds of qualifying and captured his first career NTT IndyCar Series pole at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Battling in the Firestone Fast Six, the 28-year-old New Zealander put down a flying lap at 59.4821 seconds (108.940 mph) as time expired to put his No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet at the top and dethrone teammate Will Power by 0.1237 of a second.

“I know it’s only qualifying, man, but I love qualifying. You got to put it all on the line. Working really well with (race engineer) Ben Bretzman and the DEX Imaging Chevy, the car is just phenomenal. We said we could. Yeah, just really proud… super proud of everyone. Chevy has done a tremendous job in giving us drivability now. The engine is humming so much better. I always feel confident. I’m so happy. I got to race tomorrow, now, I can’t use too much energy!’

For Power, who currently sits second all-time with 63 pole positions, looked primed to move close to the 67 set by the legendary Mario Andretti. However, in reflecting back on missing the top spot, he wasn’t sure what more could have been done to change the end result. If there is one consolation prize, though, it’s that Power broke the track record with a lap of 59.3929 seconds in Round 1 of qualifying. The previous mark was held by Jordan King with a lap at 1 minute, 0.0476 of a second in 2018.

“It was close,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. “All we could have done is fuel for one lap instead of two, that might have helped me a little better. That was two good laps I did. I could have done better on the first; I made a little mistake on the backstraight. But yeah, I think Scott got the most out of it, that’s a solid lap.”

While Team Penske has locked out the front row, immediately behind the duo is defending race winner Colton Herta, who ended up 0.2283 behind the pole to place his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda in third. Rinus VeeKay quietly put the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing in fourth, with Romain Grosjean and Simon Pagenaud finishing out the rest of the six pole contenders.

Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon was the first driver to not make the Fast Six, leading the charge for Chip Ganassi Racing in seventh. The rest of the top 10 is made up of Marcus Ericson, Josef Newgarden and reigning champion Alex Palou.

Graham Rahal ended up 11th, with Kyle Kirkwood placing best amongst the rookie class by putting the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet in 12th.

The only significant drama in the session in Round 1 with Group 2, with an incident involving rookie David Malukas and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. On a flying lap, Johnson caught the back of a group of cars, with Malukas just ahead. Upon review by race control, IndyCar hit Malukas with qualifying interference and was penalized his two fastest laps and not advancing as a result.


The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will start at noon ET, with live coverage on NBC and the IndyCar Radio Network.



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