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McLaughlin Leads Penske To First Indy 500 Front Row Sweep Since 1988


Scott McLaughlin leads Team Penske in a front row sweep for the 108th Indianapolis 500. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — If there was ever a time for the term “Penske Perfect” to be used, Sunday’s Firestone Fast Six for the 108th Indianapolis 500 was the best time. Scott McLaughlin set a new four-lap average pole speed record of 234.220 mph in the final qualifying session for next Sunday’s 200-lap race, leading Team Penske to its first front row sweep at Indy since 1988.

Penske just so happens to be the only team to ever pull off the 1-2-3 punch in 500 qualifying history as McLaughlin will start alongside Will Power and defending Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden. The 30-year-old Kiwi had previously qualified no better in three previous starts, but after breaking Alex Palou’s four-lap average pole record by 0.003 mph, his seventh career NTT P1 Pole Award accompanied by a $100,000 check was certainly an adrenaline rush.

Leading up to qualifying weekend, Penske had been under scrutiny as several key members of its INDYCAR program, including Team President Tim Cindric, were suspended following the penalties for violating the push-to-pass rules at St. Petersburg. Also, Penske has not had the best track record in qualifying since the Roger Penske Regime took over ownership of the sport and the prestigious circuit.

All of those negatives were put on the back burner as the Penske trio had one mission entering this weekend; to dominate the Month of May and bring the team its 20th Indy 500 win next Sunday.

With a check mark next to winning the pole, McLaughlin is more determined than ever to replicate Rick Mears’ feat in 1988, winning from pole in the iconic Pennzoil livery known as the “Yellow Submarine”.

“Very proud of the crew,” said McLauglin. “Our first front row sweep since 1988. I think 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 I think we certainly have, obviously. So proud of the effort. That was just a gnarly run. It was so cool, man. Really proud of everyone.”


McLaughlin’s four-lap average pole speed is a new Indy 500 record. (Photo: Katherine Miller | The Podium Finish)

McLaughlin’s opening lap speed of 234.526 mph left him thinking one thing — avoid “spraying” the car, which would have created a long night ahead for the No. 3 Penske squad.

“I just wanted to make sure I brought it home,” McLaughlin commented. “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.

“To execute the way we 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.

“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.”

Out of Power’s 70 INDYCAR poles, not a single one has ever come in the Indy 500 as Power’s four-lap average speed of 233.917 mph was not enough to finally lead the 33-car field to green. Despite leaving the session empty-handed, Power was more than pleased to be a part of the second-ever Indy 500 front row sweep by a race team.

“I was pretty certain one of their cars would get pulled back at Long Beach. In the offseason, to be honest, I just knew how much work we had done,” said Power.

“Pretty cool to get a front row lockout. I definitely like second place this year. It’s just every single weekend it’s either second in the race or second in qualifying, so I’ll continue that for the rest of the year. Maybe I’ll get a championship, and that will be a first, so it’s good stuff.”


Will Power qualified in the front row for the Indy 500, something he last accomplished in 2018. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

Newgarden’s quest to become the first driver since Helio Castroneves to score back-to-back Indy 500 victories looks favorable after an average four-lap speed of 233.808 mph rounded out the front row. It marked the two-time INDYCAR champion’s first Indy 500 front row start since 2016 when he started second for Ed Carpenter Racing in the 100th Indy 500.

“It was a great day for the team. This is a huge result. We’ve been working for this for the last three, four years. We’ve certainly not had an easy time in qualifying and trying to regain the speed that we had lost probably since 2019,” said Newgarden.

“It’s just been a nonstop effort ever since that point. We hadn’t turned the page, and I think today is really the first time we’ve turned the page. We’ve got the speed back, and it’s a testament to the entire group. It takes a whole year to find this. You don’t find it in a week. You don’t find it in two weeks. You have to take the whole year to show up with this type of speed.

“Really proud of the team. I’m sure they’re over the moon and excited for the race weekend. It gives us a good shot at going for this race win together. We’re going to be able to work together hopefully and have a clean day. The Shell car was fast, and we’re in position.”


Defending Indy 500 champion Josef Newgarden qualified on the front row for the first time since 2016. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

108th Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Notes

  • McLaughlin became the second driver from New Zealand to win a pole, joining five-time pole winner and 2008 Indy 500 champion Scott Dixon.
  • No former Supercars champion nor Bathurst 1000 winner have led the 33-car field to green in the Indy 500 until McLaughlin next Sunday.
  • Team Penske remains the only team to have had their entries sweep the Indy front row, previously doing so in 1988 when Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser accomplished this feat.
  • Kyle Larson’s fifth starting spot for the 500-mile race is the second best among drivers who have attempted the Memorial Day Double. Only Robby Gordon’s third place start in 2003 remains the best.
  • Seventh-place marks Rinus VeeKay’s worst Indy 500 starting position of his career.
  • Honda’s fastest qualifier was ninth-place starter Felix Rosenqvist, the engine supplier’s worst since 2013 when no one represented inside the top-10.
  • Chevrolet’s sweep of the Firestone Fast Six is the first time they have occupied the first two rows since 2013.

Out of the seven drivers who represent the 108th Indy 500 rookie class, two drivers were among the headlines for the opposite reasons.

On the negative end, 19-year-old Nolan Siegel gave it his all to bump Graham Rahal out of the Indy 500 again, only to crash in his second and final qualifying run, becoming the only driver who will miss the big dance. Therefore, six drivers will compete in the 200-lap contest for the first time.

“Super disappointed, obviously. I feel like today we did the best we could do,” said Siegel. “As a team, I think we had the best car that we’ve had since we started this whole event. Those were the best four laps I think I’ve done. It felt pretty maximized, and ultimately it wasn’t fast.

“Took a swing at it to try and find a half mile an hour to get to where Graham was at, and we were already on the limit of the trim. So I was going to go home because I went flat and did everything I could do. I wasn’t going to go home because I lifted, so here I am.”

Indy 500

Nolan Siegel left it all on the track but will miss the 108th Indianapolis 500. (Photo: Katherine Miller | The Podium Finish)

On the positive end, Kyle Larson was the only rookie who advanced into the top-12 qualifying round in which the NASCAR Cup Series points leader’s average speed of 232.788 mph was good enough to be fifth fastest. It was also fast enough to advance into the Firestone Fast Six in which he ultimately ended up qualifying fifth with a 232.846 mph average before heading to North Wilkesboro Speedway to defend his 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race victory.

“This is just a great team, really. They prepared an awesome race car that’s stuck to the racetrack, and also has speed,” said Larson. “Qualifying went a lot better than I ever could have hoped or anticipated. I’m just proud of everybody at Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports that’s been involved in this. Now, it’s time to switch the mindset over to the heavy stock car and try and go figure out North Wilkesboro.”

Between now and Race Day, two more practice sessions will be held, beginning Monday at 1:00 p.m. ET on Peacock as the 33-car field has two hours to log laps under race trim. Afterwards, the series will not hit the track again until Friday for Carb Day, beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET, also on Peacock. Then finally, the 108th Indianapolis 500 commences at 12:38 p.m. ET live on NBC.

Indy 500

Kyle Larson will start fifth in next Sunday’s Indy 500 as he will attempt the 1100-mile Double, which was last done by Kurt Busch in 2014. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

108th Indianapolis 500 Starting Lineup

Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make
1 3 Scott McLaughlin Pennzoil Chevrolet
2 12 Will Power (W) Verizon Chevrolet
3 2 Josef Newgarden (W) Shell Chevrolet
4 7 Alexander Rossi (W) VELO/ARROW Chevrolet
5 17 Kyle Larson (R) Chevrolet
6 14 Santino Ferrucci Homes For Our Troops Chevrolet
7 21 Rinus VeeKay Chevrolet
8 5 Pato O’Ward ARROW/VELO Chevrolet
9 60 Felix Rosenqvist SiriusXM/AutoNation Honda
10 75 Takuma Sato (W) MADA/Panasonic Honda
11 27 Kyle Kirkwood AutoNation Honda
12 23 Ryan Hunter-Reay (W) 6666 Ranch/Vensure Employer Services Chevrolet
13 26 Colton Herta Gainbridge Honda
14 10 Alex Palou DHL Honda
15 6 Callum Ilott NTT Data Chevrolet
16 11 Marcus Armstrong (R) Ridgeline Honda
17 20 Ed Capenter GuyCare Performance Health Chevrolet
18 4 Kyffin Simpson (R) Journie Rewards Honda
19 98 Marco Andretti MAPEI Honda
20 06 Helio Castroneves (W) CLIFFS Honda
21 9 Scott Dixon (W) PNC Bank Honda
22 78 Agustin Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet
23 41 Sting Ray Robb Goodheart Animal Health Center Chevrolet
24 33 Christian Rasmussen (R) Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
25 66 Tom Blomqvist (R) Artic Wolf/AutoNation Honda
26 77 Romain Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet
27 8 Linus Lundqvist (R) The American Legion Honda
ROW 10
28 45 Christian Lundgaard Hy-Vee Honda
29 24 Conor Daly Polkadot Chevrolet
30 30 Pietro Fittipaldi 5-Hour Energy Honda
ROW 11
31 51 Katherie Legge e.l.f. Cosmetics Honda
32 28 Marcus Ericsson (W) Delaware Life Honda
33 15 Graham Rahal United Rentals Honda
34 18 Nolan Siegel (R) Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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