McLaughlin wins NTT P1 award in frenetic Nashville qualifying

Scott McLaughlin won the NTT P1 award for the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on Saturday, taking the second pole of his career on his final fast lap in the Firestone Fast Six.

SEE : Qualifying Results | Skill Highlights

« The car was phenomenal, » McLaughlin said. “We did that on one lap, using tyres. One of those good tricks. »

« I’ll tell you, this DEX car is really good, man, » McLaughlin said. “We went very fast with this car. We won the opening of St. Pete with it. We won Mid-Ohio and now we are on pole in Nashville, which is an incredible circuit. »

The 80-lap race will be covered live starting at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC and the INDYCAR radio network. A 30-minute warm-up will begin at 10:15 a.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Romain Grosjean will join McLaughlin on the front row for Sunday’s race after his fastest lap of 1:14.6975 in the #28 Honda DHL. It is the best qualification of the season for the Frenchman, whose best start was fifth place at the season opener in St Petersburg.

Rookie Christian Lundgaard continued his impressive weekend by qualifying in third place in 1:14.7149 in the #30 Honda Shield Cleansers. The Dane’s best start was fourth place last August in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road race.

Lundgaard, who led practice on Friday, came to Nashville after securing his career-high runner-up finish last Saturday in the Gallagher Grand Prix at the IMS road course.

Defending champion Alex Palou qualified fourth in 1:14.9087 on NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing’s #10 Honda, joining Lundgaard in second.

Pato O’Ward qualified fifth in 1:14.9261 in the #5 Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP. Two-time series champion and Nashville-area native Josef Newgarden completed the Firestone Fast Six in 1:15.1461 in PPG Team Penske’s No. 2 Chevrolet.

Newgarden made an interesting gamble that didn’t pay off. He was the only Fast Six Firestone driver to qualify on primary Firestone tires. The other five riders used the Firestone alternative tires, which this weekend are made with rubber derived from the drought-tolerant guayule shrub native to the American Southwest. The main tire lasts longer but is not as grippy as the alternate tire.

Still, Newgarden, O’Ward and Palou are the trio of the top six drivers in the series standings who will start the perilous street race from the front three rows. Ranking leader Will Power, 2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson and six-time series champion Scott Dixon were not so lucky.

Power, who leads Ericsson by nine points with four races to go, will start eighth in the No. 12 Verizon Penske Chevrolet. He lost his best lap of the second qualifying round, which would have given him access to the Fast Six at Firestone, when he was penalized for causing a local yellow which affected the lap of his pursuer O’Ward at the end of the session. Power ran long in an off-track area.

« It’s always tough in qualifying with track position and penalties and getting caught by reds (flags), » Power said. “That’s how it goes. It’s hard. »

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dixon and Ericsson did not make it out of the first qualifying round. Dixon will start in 14th position in the no9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, seeking a record seventh championship of the season.

Ericsson will start 18th out of 26 cars at the wheel of Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing’s #8 Honda. But he can take comfort in knowing that he won the inaugural race at this circuit last year from the same starting spot.

« We have to put in place a good strategy and play the race as it comes, » said Ericsson. “There were a lot of incidents this weekend, again like last year. I think there will still be opportunities. We’re just a little too lacking in speed at the moment.  »

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