By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
Just three days ago, Roger Penske spoke with RACER about keeping his faith in Scott McLaughlin. McLaughlin, who moved from Australian Supercars after the 2020 season, finished 14th in IndyCar points in 2021. Penske’s faith in McLaughlin was backed Saturday.
McLaughlin earned his first career pole award in his 18th start in the NTT Data IndyCar Series and contributed to a Team Penske sweep of the front row alongside Will Power.
“I love qualifying, and you’ve got to put it all on the line,” McLaughlin said. “I’m working really well with Ben Bretzman. The DEX Imaging Chevy, the car is just phenomenal. I’m super proud of everyone. I just feel confident, and now I’m so happy.”
McLaughlin turned a 59.4821-second lap around the streets of St. Petersburg, going under the one-minute mark. Though his lap was the fastest in the final round, Power still set the track record with his time during the initial rounds defeating Jordan King’s track record set in 2018 of 1.0476.
McLaughlin’s previous career-best start came on the Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit in last year’s GMR Grand Prix where he qualified fifth.
Colton Herta qualified in third while Rinus VeeKay and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top five. Simon Pagenaud was the final driver to qualify in the Firestone Fast Six and will start from the sixth position with his new team.
Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, Graham Rahal, and Kyle Kirkwood rounds out the top-12 starting lineup for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Notables to not qualify within the top-12 include Alexander Rossi (13th), Pato O’Ward (16th), Jimmie Johnson (26th).
Warmup in advance of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg kicks off at 8:45 a.m. ET will be shown live on NBC Peacock. The Indy Lights season-opener follows starting at 9:30 a.m. ET also on NBC Peacock. The NTT Data IndyCar Series season opener kicks off on NBC at 12:00 p.m. ET and will also be broadcasted on IndyCar Sirius XM Radio and IndyCar Radio.