McLaughlin beats Power to IndyCar pole at St Petersburg

Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin has claimed a maiden IndyCar pole position after beating Team Penske team-mate Will Power in the Fast Six at St Petersburg.

The #3 and #12 Penske cars will share the front row for Sunday afternoon’s (Monday morning AEDT) season-opening 100-lapper after McLaughlin blazed to a 0:59.4821s with the chequered flag out in qualifying.

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta will start third and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay fourth, with Romain Grosjean (Andretti) fifth and Simon Pagenaud (Meyer Shank Racing) sixth.

Grosjean had set the best Fast Six banker, by more than four tenths of a second, when he clocked a 0:59.9180s on his first run, while Pagenaud waited in the pits.

Everyone put their best remaining reds on for one final fling, with Herta laying down a 0:59.7104s in Car #26 and VeeKay taking up second with a 0:59.8102s.

Power knocked them both off when he clocked a 0:59.6847s, and while Herta threatened to go faster again, he could make no further improvement.

Power set a 0:59.6058s with his final effort but McLaughlin, a late starter for his final run, then pieced together a lap good enough to beat all of them.

It proved his earlier pace was no fluke, after the three-time Supercars champion had also set the pace in a crash-filled Practice 2.

None of the four Chip Ganassi Racing entries made the Fast Six, with Scott Dixon first of those to miss out, by 0.1347s.

The six-time champion, who admitted to hitting the wall at Turn 9 during his black tyre run, is set to share Row 4 of the grid with team-mate Marcus Ericsson, while Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden qualified ninth.

Alex Palou was 10th in another CGR car, which had been put back together after his earlier practice crash, and Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) took 11th.

Rookie Kyle Kirkwood (AJ Foyt Racing) was last of those who made it through to the second phase of qualifying.

Back in Round 1, Alexander Rossi (Andretti) and Helio Castroneves (MSR) were among those who failed to get out of Group 1 of qualifying, while Pato O’Ward was only eighth in Group 2 after glancing the Turn 9 wall and bending a toe link in the #5 McLaren SP entry.

Rossi is set to start 13th, O’Ward 16th, and Castroneves 17th, while Tatiana Calderon (AJ Foyt Racing) shares the back row with Jimmie Johnson (CGR).

The field will be on-track again for a 30-minute Warm Up session, before the 100-lap Race starts on Monday at 04:25 AEDT, with live streaming on Stan Sport.

CLICK HERE for McLaughlin reaction

Results: Qualifying

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Qual time Session
1 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F 0:59.4821 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
2 12 Will Power D/C/F 0:59.6058 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
3 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 0:59.7104 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
4 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F 0:59.8102 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
5 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F 0:59.8116 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
6 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F 1:00.2041 Round 3 / Firestone Fast Six
7 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F 0:59.7579 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
8 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F 0:59.8241 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
9 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 0:59.8862 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
10 10 Alex Palou D/H/F 0:59.9584 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
11 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F 0:59.9870 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
12 14 Kyle Kirkwood D/C/F 1:00.2616 Elimination Round 2 / Top 12
13 27 Alexander Rossi D/H/F 0:59.9931 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
14 4 Dalton Kellett D/C/F 0:59.9521 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
15 30 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F 1:00.0276 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
16 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F 1:00.0021 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
17 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 1:00.1426 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
18 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F 1:00.0850 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
19 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 1:00.2121 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
20 20 Conor Daly D/C/F 1:00.1921 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
21 7 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F 1:00.3918 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
22 51 Takuma Sato D/H/F 1:00.2930 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
23 45 Jack Harvey D/H/F 1:00.5333 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
24 18 David Malukas D/H/F 1:00.4601 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2
25 11 Tatiana Calderon D/C/F 1:00.9391 Elimination Round 1 / Group 1
26 48 Jimmie Johnson D/H/F 1:01.0273 Elimination Round 1 / Group 2

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