NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Scott McLaughlin won the second pole of his IndyCar career, and Romain Grosjean and Christian Lundgaard earned their highest starting positions of the season in the starting lineup for Sunday’s Music City Grand Prix (3:00 pm ET, NBC).
McLaughlin won pole in the final run of the 2.1-mile, 11-turn race in Saturday’s session, which started 90 minutes late due to weather delays, and a sloppy, shortened first qualifying group had some riders fuming in the heat. , wet conditions after rain in Nashville.
Team Penske’s driver was also the fastest on Saturday morning practice. The New Zealand native opened the season with a pole win in St. Petersburg, Florida, his first career win.
INDYCAR IN NASHVILLE: Schedule, details to watch this weekend on NBC.
QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for the full report from Nashville. l Round 1 Group 1 l Round 1 Group 2 l Round 2 l Fast Six
“This car was phenomenal,” McLaughlin said of the No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet. “One of those good laps. Hopefully more of the same (Sunday). Lower your head, raise your head and focus on what we need to do.”
Grosjean qualified second in Andretti Autosport, from which three drivers were eliminated in the first round of qualifying. Lundgaard was the best third of Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s career, taking all three of his riders to the top 12.
Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward and Joseph Newgarden rounded out the top six fast riders who made it to the qualifying final.
The first five starting places were represented by five teams: Team Penske, Andretti Autosport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Chip Ganassi Racing and Arrow McLaren SP.
REtweet to congratulate @smclaughlin93!
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Lundgaard overcame a penalty in the second round and blocked a tire in the final round and still managed to qualify third.
The championship contenders had a mixed day with reigning champion Palou, who is sixth in a six-rider fight, top-qualified (fourth). O’Ward, who is fifth in the standings, only moved forward because IndyCar points leader Will Power was knocked out of the fast six for preventing O’Ward from lapping when he was blown off course in the top 12.
The penalty robbed Power of his fastest lap and O’Ward took over. Power is nine points ahead of reigning race winner Marcus Eriksson with only 52 points separating Power from Palou, with Sunday’s race being the first of the last four this season.
“We could have a great day tomorrow,” Power said as he started eighth. “Develop a good strategy, good pit stops and see what we have.”
Josef Nieugarden from Penske, third in the standings, qualified sixth.
Eriksson and Scott Dixon, fourth in the standings, failed to make it out of the first round. Dixon starts 14th and Eriksson 18th, from which he started in last year’s win.
“We need to come up with a good strategy and run the race the way it is,” Eriksson said in an interview with NBC Sports Dillon Welch. “This weekend again there were many incidents, just like last year. I think there will be more opportunities. We fought all weekend. I don’t have the feeling in the car I want. The team did a good job in qualifying so that I liked it more and felt like a step in the right direction.
“We just don’t have enough speed for the fastest guys. It’s a bit strange. I will say during the (second practice) the car was very stable in control. A bit of work tonight, but I hope for a better day tomorrow. I think that if there is someone in this pit lane who can fight from the back to the front, we are always strong doing it. We have that confidence.”
Colton Hart crashed in the first group of the first round to bring out a red flag at the end of the session that ruined the runs of several riders, including teammate Alexander Rossi.
“A little too ambitious for the conditions that were. After the rain, a lot of that grip was gone, I was just trying to find the right braking point and I was just overdoing it,” Herta said. “I apologize to my team, especially to Andretti, because I think I probably screwed up Rossi quite well too. And maybe a few more guys.
“I’m not trying to do this on purpose and it was a really honest mistake so I’m sorry for everyone involved.”
Here’s another look at what happened to Colton Herta.
— INDICAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 6, 2022
The riders were thrilled with the first group because it was so short. Before Hertha’s spin, Andretti Autosport rookie Devlin DeFrancesco also turned around to reveal a yellow that chewed through three of the 10 scheduled minutes in the qualifying group.
This meant that most of the riders who were eliminated from the round hardly had a chance to qualify.
“Dude, I’m so upset. It’s not a sport, man,” said Simon Pagenaud, who starts 13th. “We can wait all day for the storm to die down, but they don’t give us enough time to get on our knees. It’s just incredible. I have no words.
“It’s such a shame because you just can’t perform at your level. We’re going to start again where we don’t belong. A lot of guys don’t belong up there.”
Felix Rosenquist, who crashed in practice early Saturday, felt his lap would move forward before being halted by Hertha’s crash.
“Just annoying,” Rosenquist said. “I didn’t even have a circle. We had a kind of warm-up circle. That’s something we have to look at, maybe we should have gone straight ahead and tried to do a lap, but it’s annoying when there are red flags all the time and you can’t even start a session.”
The shortened session meant that Dalton Kellett was out of the first group for the first time in 37 IndyCar career starts. He will start his career in 12th place and was cheered by his team and family members as he finished in the top 12.
Here’s IndyCar’s starting lineup for Sunday’s Music City Grand Prix on a 11-turn, 2.1-mile street circuit (qualifying position, car number in brackets, driver, engine, time, speed):
1. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:14.5555 (101.401)
2. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:14.6975 (101.208)
3. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:14.7149 (101.185)
4. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:14.9087 (100.923)
5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:14.9261 (100.899)
6. (2) Joseph Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:15.1461 (100.604)
7. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:14.9616 (100.852)
8. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:14.9818 (100.824)
9. (15) Graeme Rahal, Honda, 01:15.3112 (100.383)
10. (21) Rinus VK, Chevrolet, 01:15.3897 (100.279)
11. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:15.9758 (99.505)
12. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:16.5600 (98.746)
13. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:19.4039 (95.209)
14. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:15.3179 (100.375)
15. (7) Felix Rosenquist, Chevrolet, 01:21.1784 (93.128)
16. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 01:15.4382 (100.214)
17. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:21.4579 (92.809)
18. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:15.4501 (100.199)
19. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:57.6982 (64.232)
20. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:15.5935 (100.009)
21. (16) Simone De Silvestro, Chevrolet, No Time (No Speed)
22. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:16.3955 (98.959)
23. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, No Time (No Speed)
24. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:16.5898 (98.708)
25. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, No Time (No Speed)
26. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:17.5888 (97.437)