Scott McLaughlin came to Nashville this Saturday (Aug. 5) looking for his first NTT IndyCar Series pole of the season, and did he ever get it.
The Kiwi threw down a monster lap in Firestone Fast Six qualifying for Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, and will lead the field to the green for the 80-lap event.
In scoring the fourth pole of his IndyCar career, McLaughlin, who won earlier this season at Barber, had the field more than covered, turning a fast lap of 1 minute, 14.6099 seconds, which cleared the field by .33 seconds in a qualifying session that was delayed for over three hours hours by rain.
The pole is McLaughlin’s second at Nashville in as many years, and he hopes to move up one step on the podium from his runner-up finish a year ago. It’s also the first Team Penske pole on a road or street course this season.
“We did a big lap in Q1 which really set us up, this Dex Imaging Printer Wagon, she’s a ripper,” McLaughlin told NBC Sports. “You’ve gotta do the big laps when you need to do them, and I did it twice in that session that we’re really proud of. To put it on pole two years in a row is unreal.”
Pato O’Ward, who is still in search of his first win of the season, will start next to McLaughlin on the front row.
Firestone Fast 6
Colton Herta had one of the quickest cars of the session and looked to be ready to challenge McLaughlin for pole, but had a frustrating Fast Six that left one of the newest residents of Nashville – he moved there earlier this year – a little miffed at Andretti Autosport teammate Romain Grosjean’s pit stand.
“I wasn’t happy that there were six cars on track, and they go out a second in front of me, then they back up into me,” Herta said. “It affects the car dramatically aero-wise, and I wanted to know why. It sounded like a miscommunication. If I finish that lap, who knows, it wasn’t stellar to start but the car was coming in, and I wish we could’ve fought a little bit harder.
“P3 isn’t bad and I’m not upset with that, it was just unnecessary”
4. Alex Palou
Linus Lundqvist has been more than impressive in his first weekend in the big cars, and the 2022 IndyNXT champion will make his maiden IndyCar start in the 11th position. Lundqvist, filling in for Simon Pagenaud this weekend, put a Meyer Shank Racing machine in the Fast 12 for just the second time on a road or street course this season.
Scott Dixon brought out the red flag late in the session when he put his No. 9 Honda in the wall in a rare display of driver error from the six-time champion.
Eliminated from Round 2 were:
7. Will Power
10. Alexander Rossi
Round 1, Group 1
Christian Lundgaard, who won the pole at the last street race in Toronto and went on to win his first IndyCar race, thought he had a car capable of making the Firestone Fast Six, but instead will start in row seven.
“We made some changes overnight we wanted to verify in practice this morning, and it was wet so we didn’t get to do that, which was frustrating.” Lundgaard said. “In my opinion that’s the reason we’re not through, and that quite honestly sucks.”
Eliminated from Round 1, Group 1 were:
15. Graham Rahal
19. Rinus Veekay
21. Santino Ferrucci
23. Agustin Canapino
Round 1, Group 2
The second group of Round 1 completed their session without major incident
14. Felix Rosenqvist
16. Marcus Armstrong
18. Callum Ilott
20. Marcus Ericsson
22. Jack Harvey
24. Sting Ray Robb
27. Ryan Hunter-Reay
The 2023 Big Machine Music City Grand Prix will get underway Sunday, Aug. 6, at 2 p.m. ET with coverage on NBC.
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