VeeKay quickest, McLaughlin loses out on Indy qualifying gamble

Scott McLaughlin

Rinus VeeKay remains on provisional pole position while Scott McLaughlin is set to start the Indianapolis 500 from 26th after a qualifying gamble which failed to pay off.

Team Penske opted to send McLaughlin and also Josef Newgarden for a second run with both sitting just outside the top 12 cut-off to make it through to the second day of qualifying, but the former’s pace got even worse.

Newgarden, however, got saved by a second yellow flag period for rain/lightning just as he went out onto the circuit again, meaning he will indeed start next weekend’s 200-lap race from 14th position, one above where his New Zealander team-mate had been before the #3 Chevrolet’s opening time was withdrawn.

The start of the Day 1 Qualifying session had been brought forward by an hour due to forecast rain and, somewhat coincidentally, the chequered flag ended up coming approximately an hour earlier than originally scheduled also, once it became apparent that the weather was not going to clear sufficiently for more laps.

It locked the Dutchman in the #21 Chevrolet into provisional pole ahead of tomorrow’s Top 12 Qualifying and a Fast Six, although that was hardly in doubt anyway given the conditions after the first runs were done, while Will Power (#12 Penske Chevrolet) was through in 11th.

Notables stuck outside the top 12, in addition to Newgarden and McLaughlin, include Simon Pagenaud (#60 Mike Shank Racing Honda) in 16th, Alexander Rossi (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) in 20th, his team-mate Colton Herta (#26 Andretti w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda) in 25th, Helio Castroneves (#06 MSR Honda) in 27th, and Juan Pablo Montoya (#6 McLaren SP Chevrolet) in 30th.

VeeKay had been fastest once everyone had been given the opportunity to go for a run, from McLaren SP team-mates Pato O’Ward (#5 Chevrolet) and Felix Rosenqvist (#7 Chevrolet), then Alex Palou (#10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), Tony Kanaan (#1 Ganassi Honda), and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Ganassi Honda).

The rest of the top 12 at that point, with more than four hours in the session remaining, was Ed Carpenter (#33 ECR Chevrolet), from Marcus Ericsson (#8 Ganassi Honda), Romain Grosjean (#28 Andretti Honda), Scott Dixon (#9 Ganassi Honda), Power, and Newgarden (#2 Chevrolet).

McLaughlin was first outside the dozen who were provisionally into the second day of qualifying while Takuma Sato (#51 Dale Coyne Racing w/ RWR Honda), who had been fastest on each day so far, was without a time as punishment for a bizarre impeding incident with Marco Andretti.

Rookie David Malukas (#18 DCR w/ HMD Motorsports Honda) was first to make an impact during the second runs when he went 12th with a 231.607mph (372.735km/h).

His team-mate Sato was next to go and, despite a hair-raising Lap 3 exit from Turn 2 when he scuffed the wall, he pushed Malukas straight back out with a 231.708mph (372.898mph) run which put Car #51 into 12th position.

Marco Andretti (#98 Andretti Herta w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda), Castroneves, and Herta all subsequently improved on lowly positions, the latter having not set a time on his first run due to an engine problem.

However, Rossi dropped from 17th to 21st when he completed a 230.812mph (371.456km/h) run, around half a mile per hour slower than he had gone earlier.

That would have made McLaughlin nervous given he was waiting in Lane 1 and about to give up 15th position for a second run, when rain which had threatened for hours finally started to fall.

That triggered a yellow flag and a lightning hold with 3hr 35min to go, interrupting a run for Sage Karam (#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet) as McLaughlin sat at the head of Lane 1.

Karam thus got the first run when the session finally resumed over 90 minutes later and he took up 23rd position, before McLaughlin was dispatched.

He set laps of 230.394mph (370.783km/h), 230.123mph (370.347km/h), 230.104mph (370.316km/h), and 229.998mph (370.146km/h) for an average of 230.154mph (370.397km/h) which was only good enough for 26th.

Worse still for Penske, Newgarden was next in the queue, but when he went out, another yellow flag was called due to lightning in the vicinity and the session was neutralised once again, with a scheduled 1hr 49min remaining.

There would in fact be no further running, giving Car #2 a reprieve and locking in positions 13 to 33 on the starting grid.

Top 12 Practice takes place tomorrow at 02:30 AEST, before Top 12 Qualifying at 06:00 AEST.

Stan Sport’s live and ad-free coverage resumes tomorrow at 06:00 AEST.

Results: Qualifying Day 1

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Total time Avg speed (mph) Status
1 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F 38.3465 38.4745 38.5681 38.6839 2:34.0730 233.655
2 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F 38.5602 38.5975 38.6591 38.6652 2:34.4820 233.037
3 7 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F 38.5419 38.6049 38.8046 38.7044 2:34.6558 232.775
4 10 Alex Palou D/H/F 38.5293 38.5976 38.6919 38.8377 2:34.6565 232.774
5 1 Tony Kanaan D/H/F 38.5968 38.6797 38.7326 38.7464 2:34.7555 232.625
6 48 Jimmie Johnson D/H/F 38.6043 38.7216 38.7707 38.8104 2:34.9070 232.398
7 33 Ed Carpenter D/C/F 38.6342 38.6611 38.7016 38.9107 2:34.9076 232.397
8 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F 38.6717 38.7254 38.7977 38.7942 2:34.9890 232.275
9 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F 38.6937 38.7306 38.8006 38.8129 2:35.0378 232.201
10 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F 38.6681 38.7453 38.7964 38.8618 2:35.0716 232.151
11 12 Will Power D/C/F 38.7121 38.7537 38.8492 38.9634 2:35.2784 231.842
12 51 Takuma Sato D/H/F 38.7127 38.8115 38.9199 38.9238 2:35.3679 231.708
13 18 David Malukas D/H/F 38.7127 38.7587 39.0368 38.9274 2:35.4356 231.607
14 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 38.5920 38.7375 38.9300 39.1946 2:35.4541 231.580
15 23 Santino Ferrucci D/C/F 38.7531 38.8385 38.9056 39.0047 2:35.5019 231.508
16 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F 38.7615 38.8390 39.0138 39.0447 2:35.6590 231.275
17 11 JR Hildebrand D/C/F 38.8600 38.9412 38.9735 38.9937 2:35.7684 231.112
18 20 Conor Daly D/C/F 38.7183 38.8838 38.9911 39.2519 2:35.8451 230.999
19 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 38.8151 38.8849 38.9907 39.1800 2:35.8707 230.961
20 27 Alexander Rossi D/H/F 38.8973 38.9483 39.0431 39.0826 2:35.9713 230.812
21 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F 38.9471 39.0214 39.0155 39.0182 2:36.0022 230.766
22 24 Sage Karam D/C/F 38.9436 39.0606 39.1276 39.0746 2:36.2064 230.464
23 98 Marco Andretti D/H/F 38.9617 39.0824 39.1106 39.1328 2:36.2875 230.345
24 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F 38.8751 38.9227 39.0054 39.4970 2:36.3002 230.326
25 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 39.0264 39.0829 39.1570 39.0957 2:36.3620 230.235
26 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F 39.0636 39.1096 39.1127 39.1308 2:36.4167 230.154
27 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 39.0784 39.1640 39.2037 39.3280 2:36.7741 229.630
28 14 Kyle Kirkwood D/C/F 39.1093 39.1768 39.2493 39.3915 2:36.9269 229.406
29 4 Dalton Kellett D/C/F 39.1861 39.2323 39.3807 39.4637 2:37.2628 228.916
30 6 Juan Pablo Montoya D/C/F 39.2195 39.2360 39.4915 39.5185 2:37.4655 228.622
31 30 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F 39.5436 39.3861 39.7186 39.9048 2:38.5531 227.053
32 45 Jack Harvey D/H/F 39.0623 39.9207 39.4682 40.2432 2:38.6944 226.851
33 51 Takuma Sato D/H/F 38.7399 38.7001 38.7706 38.8307 2:35.0413 232.196 Failed Attempt
34 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F 38.6547 38.8104 38.9606 39.0527 2:35.4784 231.543 Withdrawn
35 27 Alexander Rossi D/H/F 38.6797 38.7910 39.0844 39.0593 2:35.6144 231.341 Withdrawn
36 18 David Malukas D/H/F 38.8599 38.9115 38.9481 38.9674 2:35.6869 231.233 Retired
37 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 38.9619 38.9667 39.0275 39.4214 2:36.3775 230.212 Retired
38 24 Sage Karam D/C/F 38.7005 38.8580 39.5910 39.4372 2:36.5867 229.905 Withdrawn
39 98 Marco Andretti D/H/F 39.0556 40.9216 39.9956 39.2433 2:39.2161 226.108 Retired
40 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 39.0275 39.0796 39.2705 42.2807 2:39.6583 225.482 Withdrawn
41 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0:00.0000 Waved Off
42 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0:00.0000 No Attempt
43 25 Stefan Wilson D/C/F 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0:00.0000 Incomplete
44 24 Sage Karam D/C/F 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0:00.0000 No Attempt

Pursuant to rule 8.2.6.5.2, Car 2 had his withdrawn times reinstated.

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