Scott McLaughlin takes a dominant pole in Nashville from O’Ward; Lundqvist impresses on debut

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Qualifying finally got underway in Nashville almost 4 hours later than scheduled. Heavy rain and other categories running meant a long delay before things got underway in the later afternoon. In fact, the sunshine appeared.

Round 1, Group 1

There was a red flag just 65 seconds into the session as Benjamin Pedersen stalled in the turn 4 run-off. The Dane lost his two best times because of it.

A 1:15.8671 from Scott McLaughlin put him fastest by a distance with 4:00 to go. Dixon (+0.7s), Rossi, Newgarden, Lundqvist and Canapino completed the top 6 ahead of everyone switching to the alternates.

McLaughlin cemented his dominance in the first part of qualifying as a 1:15.1629 from the New Zealander left him over half a second clear of Scott Dixon. Malukas, Rossi and Newgarden also dipped into the 1:15s as they made it through.

The big story was Linus Lundqvist as the Swede put in a sensational performance to pip Christian Lundgaard by 0.009s to take the final spot in the top 6 to get through to the fast 12.

Along with Lundgaard, Rahal, Castroneves, VeeKay, Ferrucci, Canapino and Pedersen dropped out.

Round 1, Group 2

On the first runs before switching to alternates, a 1:15.5242 from Colton Herta put him just under a tenth ahead of championship leader Alex Palou. Kirkwood, O’Ward, Grosjean and Rosenqvist were also in the top 6 with 3 minutes to go.

Jack Harvey had an excursion down the run-off and caused local yellows before switching everyone switched to the alternates. Power and Robb also had moments but avoided losing their best time at that stage.

A 1:15.0030 from Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta left him on top of the times at the end of the session, narrowly ahead of Kirkwood and Palou. O’Ward, Grosjean and Power also made it through.

It was a painful exit for Felix Rosenqvist as he missed out by 0.004s compared to Will Power.

Armstrong, Ilott, Ericsson, Harvey, Robb, DeFrancesco and Hunter-Reay also missed out on advancing.

Round 2

Once again with Scott McLaughlin flying on the primary tyres to start the fast 12 as a 1:15.1900 put him half a tenth clear of Herta. Grosjean, O’Ward, Palou and Kirkwood completed the top 6 at the 3-minute to go mark. Dixon and Newgarden found themselves only in P9 and P10.

Out front, a stonking 1:14.5944 from Pato O’Ward left the Arrow McLaren on top by just over a tenth from Herta, Palou, McLaughlin and Grosjean. David Malukas found himself in P6.

With 18 seconds to go, a red flag was thrown as Scott Dixon made a very rare unforced error by crashing at turn 11.

Race control allowed the other 11 drivers to have one more timed attempt when Dixon’s car was cleared.

Only one driver managed to make an improvement as Kyle Kirkwood got within a tenth of making it through.

Power, Kirkwood, Newgarden, Rossi, the mighty impressive Linus Lundqvist and Dixon was the order of the drivers who got bumped out.

Fast 6

Scott McLaughlin logged a 1:16.0493 to kick things off in the battle for pole position.

After Grosjean did a 1:15.9921, O’Ward destroyed that time as a 1:15.3506 put him over 0.6s clear.

Championship leader Alex Palou logged the fastest time with 1:15 to go as he posted a 1:15.2462, but he was narrowly beaten by Colton Herta.

However, Scott McLaughlin was the man who bagged pole with a stunning 1:14.6099 to take pole by 0.3s from Pato O’Ward. The Kiwi and the Mexican were the only drivers in the 1:14s. It’s the first time this year a Penske is on pole at a road/street course

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski

Herta, Palou, Malukas and Grosjean completed the order in the fast 6.