McLaughlin fastest in qualifying for the first time on an oval in IndyCar, Newgarden to start P1

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After yesterday’s cancellation due to the excessive rain, it’s time for qualifying at the World Wide Technology Raceway.

Many drivers are taking up a new engine ahead of the final three races of the year, and will have to serve later today a nine places grid penalty, including Alex Palou, Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Scott McLaughlin, Kyle Kirkwood and Agustin Canapino.

In spite of the heavy crash which involved Scott McLaughlin, Will Power and Marcus Ericsson yesterday during the 60 minutes practice session, severely damaging the cars of the Aussie and Swede, all of them will manage to take part in the session and the race, with Ganassi working on Ericsson’s car no.8 until 1 am.

The session started with a delay caused by the presence of oil on track, which had to be removed before cars could exit the pits.

Qualifying was kicked off by Ed Carpenter’s pole attempt. Every driver signs two laps and the average speed over them will decide the starting grid, and the driver-owner setting the first benchmark with a 174.473mph, much faster than his practice time put in yesterday on the drying track.

Up next is Benjamin Pedersen for A.J. Foyt Racing, who completes his lap in 176.745mph to move ahead, improved again by fellow rookie Sting Ray Robb, who brings the fastest speed to 177.792mph.

The first Andretti driver on track is Devlin Defrancesco, who briefly led during the last race in Indianapolis. The Canadian driver laps in 178.861mph. Conor Daly, who is driving the car no. 30 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing this weekend, goes fastest with an impressive 179.928mph.

Linus Lunqvist, who his making his oval debut in Indycar in his third race replacing Simon Pagenaud for Meyers Shank Racing, signed a 179.802mph, for a f average speed faster than his very experienced teammate Helio Castroneves, 0.300mph off the Swedish driver’s pace.

Santino Ferrucci was the first driver of the afternoon to run in the 180mphs, but a small wiggle in his second lap ruined his average speed, and forces him to slot in provisional P9, ahead of only Carpenter.

David Malukas storms to P1 with a 181.091mph, and is joined in the club of drivers with an 180mph average speed and above shortly after in P2 by Callum Ilott, who scored a 180.208mph.

Rinus Veekay is the best performing Ed Carpenter Racing driver of the day, sliding in provisional P8 with a 178.385mph ahead of his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Takuma Sato goes on top with a 181.427mph, but is immediately replaced by Felix Rosenqvist with his 181.557mph.

Romain Grosjean is welcomed by a pleasant surprise at the end of his attempt, as he finds out he is in provisional P3 behind Rosenqvist and Sato. His teammate Colton Herta put in two very consistent laps to get provisional P1 in 181.946mph, in spite of almost touching the wall just like he almost did in practise yesterday.

The final Andretti driver on track, Kyle Kirkwood, was instead left not completely satisfied by his 180.592 mph, which places him in provisional P7, also considering that he has to serve a nine places grid penalty, just behind Arrow McLaren’s Alex Rossi.

Christian Lundgaard is the second fastest Rahal Letterman Lenigham Racing driver behind the debuting Daly, in provisional P13 with a 178.834mph.

The winner of the 2022 Indy 500 Marcus Ericsson had to borrow his teammate Alex Palou’s chassis in order to take part in the race after his crash yesterday, and signed an average of 178.901mph in his first time in the new car, but mentioned an engine issue at the end of his two laps. Will all Ganassi drivers end up taking up the fifth enging of his season, and thus a 9-place grid penalty?

Pato O’Ward becomes the fastest McLaren driver in St. Louis, slotting in P2 with a 181.722mph behind Herta. Scott McLaughlin, yet to win his first oval race, storms to the top with an average of 182.951mph , obtained with the aid of an impressive second lap speed of 183.395mph.

Photo credits: Penske Entertainment | James Black

Winner of the Indy 500 and of every oval race in 2023 Josef Newgarden has to be satisfied with a provisional P2, averaging a speed of 182.390mph. Reigning INDYCAR champion Will Power lapped in 180.946, which has him in provisional P11.

Track temperature is still the same as the beginning of the session, as Scott Dixon signs a 181.442mph for provisional P6 before the application of his engine penalty.

The last driver out on track is championship leader and most talked about on the American grid Alex Palou, who slots in P5 just ahead of his teammate.

It’s a first ever pole position on an oval for Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, but his teammate Josef Newgarden will actually start from P1 on track due to McLaughlin’s grid penalty for a fifth engine this year, alongside Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward.

Considering the grid penalties, the top ten at the start will be completed by Rosenqvist, Grosjean, Malukas, Rossi, Power, Ilott and the pole sitter.