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Scott McLaughlin wins Pole for the Indy 500

Source: Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment / other

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Team Penske flexed its muscle from the very beginning of qualifying for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500, and that flex turned into outright domination.

McLaughlin, turning a new pole speed track record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway of 234.220 mph, led what turned into a sweep of the front row for Team Penske with Will Power and Josef Newgarden qualifying to McLaughlin’s right.

Alexander Rossi was the fastest non-Penske driver qualifying for the inside of Row 2 with an average speed of 233.090 mph. He is joined by Kyle Larson and Santino Ferrucci.

“I think to do it now with these two boys but also Roger’s (Penske) house, and I think we’re all really happy for Roger,” McLaughlin said. “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.”

“Look, like I said earlier, we’ve been working on this for the last four years, and every year we show up we felt like we’ve put in as much effort as we can, this must be a turn-around for us, and it hadn’t been,” added Newgarden. “It’s a testament to the team. This is pretty cool that they were able to put — look, this is what Indianapolis is all about is showcasing the talent of the team as a whole.”

The effort for Penske comes with the dark cloud of the “Push-To-Pass Scandal” hanging over them as key team members within the Penske garage are not present due to suspensions.

Also contested on Sunday was who would be in and who would be out of the Indianapolis 500 on the Last Row.

Last Chance Qualifying saw Katherine Legge, Graham Rahal, Marcus Ericsson, and Nolan Siegel duke it out for the final three positions in the race.

Katherine Legge was steady, setting the fastest average of the four at 230.092 mph. Graham Rahal also set a time fast enough to make the field despite many misgivings about the pace of his machine.

The drama came, however, when Ericsson took to the track. His opening run looked promising, but somehow Ericsson appeared to lose count of the laps on his run and he backed off after taking the white flag.

The average was killed ensuring that he would have to go out again, especially after Nolan Siegel turned an average of 229.566.

Siegel had struggled to find speed after crashing on Fast Friday and having to go to a backup car.

Ericsson waited for about 20 minutes, cooling down the car and even taking a cool-down run in the process. With seven minutes left in the session, Ericsson, counting the proper laps, turned an average of 230.027 mph. That speed was good for 32nd on the inside of the final row and moving Rahal to the bubble.

Siegel tried again, but wrecked after completing his first lap, which was already too slow to make the field. That wreck sealed the field of 33 and Siegel was left as the driver on the outside looking in.

Siegel tagged the wall in Turn 1 and broke the suspension refusing to lift to try and keep as much speed as he could.

“Yeah, super disappointed, obviously. I feel like today we did the best we could do,” Siegel said. “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.”

As for Rahal, he held on to qualify 33rd, the second year in a row he will start last in the Indy 500 field. He is the first driver to start last in two consecutive Indy 500s since George Cheeseburgh in 1964 and 1965.

With McLaughlin’s pole speed, he is the fastest pole sitter in the history of the Indianapolis 500. He beat the previous record set by Alex Palou last year by .003 mph.

The effort by Team Penske to sweep the front row is the second time ever they have accomplished the feat. The last time was in 1988 when Rick Mears started on the pole along with Danny Sullivan and Al Unser, Sr. Team Penske is the only team to ever occupy each of the first three starting spots.

Drivers who have made the race will have two more practice sessions between now and race day. They will practice on Monday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Drivers will then take the next few days off before going through one final practice session on Carb Day that Friday. Race day is Sunday (May 26th).

Full Starting Grid for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500:

Row 1: Scott McLaughlin (234.220 mph), Will Power (233.917 mph), Josef Newgarden (233.808 mph)

Row 2: Alexander Rossi (233.090 mph), Kyle Larson (232.846 mph), Santino Ferrucci (232.692 mph)

Row 3: Rinus Veekay (232.610 mph), Pato O’Ward (232.584 mph), Felix Rosenqvist (232.305 mph)

Row 4: Takuma Sato (232.171 mph), Kyle Kirkwood (230.993 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (230.567 mph)

Row 5: Colton Herta (232.316 mph), Alex Palou (232.316 mph), Callum Ilott (232.230 mph)

Row 6: Marcus Armstrong (232.183 mph), Ed Carpenter (232.017 mph), Kyffin Simpson (231.948 mph)

Row 7: Marco Andretti (231.890 mph), Helio Castroneves (231.871 mph), Scott Dixon (231.851 mph)

Row 8: Agustin Canapino (231.847 mph), Sting Ray Robb (231.826 mph), Christian Rasmussen (231.682 mph)

Row 9: Tom Blomqvist (231.578 mph), Romain Grosjean (231.514 mph), Linus Lundqvist (231.506 mph)

Row 10: Christian Lundgaard (231.465 mph), Conor Daly (231.243 mph), Pietro Fittipaldi (231.100 mph)

Row 11: Katherine Legge (230.092 mph), Marcus Ericsson (230.027 mph), Graham Rahal (229.974 mph)