Indy 500 polesitter McLaughlin on his qualifying laps: “Some of the best laps I had ever driven”

Photo credits: Penske Entertainment | Matt Fraver
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The Penske driver has signed the fastest average pole speed in the history of the 500, for a very dominant display from the entire team. In fact McLaughlin, alongside his teammates Will Power, who had been fastest on Day 1 of Qualifying, and latest 500 winner Josef Newgarden, has managed to do a front row lockout, securing all three top starting spot for the first time in the history of the team since 1988.

McLaughlin, winner of the 2023 and 2024 Barber GP, talked about achieving his first ever 500 pole position in the post qualifying press conference, highlighting as well the importance of team and engineering work as well as the strong display Penske as a whole provided:

“We have next week, but very proud of the crew. I think it’s our first front row sweep since 1988. To do it now with these two boys but also Roger’s house, and I think we’re all really happy for Roger. It’s been a tough few years, obviously, at least with the car speed.

“Josef winning last year was fantastic, but a lot of the objective was to bring faster cars, and we certainly have, obviously. So proud of the effort, that was just a gnarly run. It was so cool, man. Really proud of everyone.”

The Kiwi has also signed an outstanding fast lap speed of 234.5mph on his first fast lap. Asked to describe the emotions and feelings that ran through his head once he found out how fast he was actually going, he replied:

“Holy cow. Just don’t spray it. Just wanted to make sure I brought it home. Look, we work really hard to get a really good balance in the Fast 12, and I felt like my best run of the weekend was actually the Fast 12. I knew going last was going to be advantage, and we used it.”

He also returned again on the importance of group work, and on the fact that it was a huge achievement for everyone at Penske as well:

“To execute the way we he have as a team, that’s what’s really cool. You see the time, and then it’s all about just executing. After that your weight jacker and figuring out, okay, what was the car doing and what do you think the car is going to do the next lap. So, you are playing with bars and weight jacker and trying to hold on to it.”

Photo credits: Penske Entertainment | Matt Fraver

“We all have been really working that this week and understanding it, and I was glad I was able to put it to the test when it mattered the most.”

Another moment which held a lot of importance for McLaughin was the realisation which came after the end of his fast lap sequence, looking at the crowds going wild:

“You just want to get out of the car as fast as you can,” he said while recalling his first impressions of the public reaction.

“You go back into the procedures and making sure it’s all right, but at the same time you are looking around, and it’s the first time you sort of enjoy and soak in the crowd. I felt like we had a hell of a crowd here today, around the banks and even at four and down the front straight. It was incredible.”

“Just soaked it in as much as I can. You just never know when this moment will ever happen again, especially at this place. As the boys said, it’s a pretty weird joint. But then when you get out of the car, you celebrate, and we’ll enjoy this, but it’s hard work next week to make sure we win the big one.”

Six times a pole sitter in IndyCar, McLaughlin also compared the different kind of satisfaction he had felt while getting pole for the Bathurst 1000:

“It’s a completely different kettle of fish. Bathurst is one lap. This is basically four and four good ones. I said to myself, you know, it felt like a shoot-out at Bathurst, but I’ve said I’ve done this many times before.”

“It’s just a matter of nailing it again. I felt like those two runs that I had today were some of the best laps I had ever driven,” he concluded.