Complete Indy 500 Starting Grid: Scott McLaughlin Leads Penske Front-Row Sweep at Indianapolis

scott mclaughlin penske indycar
Penske Sweeps Front Row at Indy 500 QualifyingPenske Entertainment/Aaron Skillman

"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

Team Penske has the top guns for the Indianapolis 500, but invader Kyle Larson is trying to push his way into the action at the top.

Penske Chevrolets swept the top three starting positions for the 500 Sunday, with Scott McLaughlin claiming the pole with a speed of 234.220 mph. He’ll start next Sunday’s race on the front row alongside Penske teammates Will Power (233.917) and Josef Newgarden (233.808).


Sunday was a day that was painted all in Chevrolet colors, with Chevy drivers taking the first eight spots. Included in that number was NASCAR visitor and drive-anything guy Kyle Larson, who made a spectacular 500 qualifying debut with a fifth starting spot.


With qualifying in the books and the 33-car starting field set, focus shifts to race particulars Monday with a two-hour afternoon (1-3 p.m.) practice session.

After Indy qualifying, Larson flew to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina to race in Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race then made the return flight to Indy to participate in Monday’s critical practice session.

indianapolis, in during the indianapolis 500 at the indianapolis motor speedway photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Kyle Larson will start the Indy 500 in the middle of Row 2 after qualifying fifth.Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

Kyle Larson Lights It Up

If there is a conclusion to be reached about Indy 500 activities to date, it is this: Keep your eye on Kyle Larson.

Despite the problems associated with bouncing back and forth between Indiana and the Carolinas and trying to mix stock cars with open wheel vehicles, Larson has performed superbly. He has adapted quickly to the totally different animal that is the IndyCar, and the rocket speeds on the Indy straights have seemed to be no problem for him.

Larson, who finished fourth in the NASCAR All-Star Race on Sunday at North Wilkesboro, plans to race in the 500 and then fly to Concord, North Carolina to race in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, thus becoming the latest driver to attempt the Indy-Charlotte double.

Larson’s Fast 12 speed of 232.788 made him the fastest rookie in one-lap speed, and his 232.846 run in the Fast Six made him the second-fastest rookie in a four-lap average behind the 233.100 Tony Stewart (another “double” driver) recorded in 1996.

“Kyle Larson has shown what a talent he is behind the wheel of an Indy Car, taking on the four toughest qualifying laps in motorsports with skill,” said Chevrolet official Jim Campbell.

Larson is busy proving that he can drive virtually any sort of motorsports vehicle and not shy away from running with the front pack. The 500 will be the latest – and biggest – test of his all-around skill set.

McLaughlin Moves to the Center of the Stage

Prior to Sunday, Scott McLaughlin’s best qualifying run at Indy was 14th place. He jumped to the top of the charts Sunday to win his first Indy 500 pole and record the fastest four-lap average speed -- 234.220 -- in history for a pole winner. The previous record of 234.217 was set by Alex Palou. Arie Luyendyk owns the all-time four-lap record of 236.986, set in 1996, but his run came on the second day of qualifying.

McLaughlin and his Penske teammates performed at top levels Sunday despite the cloud that continues to follow the team because of its push-to-pass violations, disqualification, fines and team suspensions. There was no evidence Sunday that any of the turmoil cramped the team. Indeed, quite the opposite.

“To execute the way we have as a team, that’s what’s really cool,” McLaughlin said.

He coasted to a stop as the frontstretch crowd roared its approval after his qualifying run.

“Just soaked it in as much as I can,” McLaughlin said. “You just never know when this moment will ever happen again, especially at this place. As the boys said, it’s a pretty weird joint. But then when you get out of the car, you celebrate. We’ll enjoy this, but it’s hard work next week to make sure we win the big one.”

a man in a race car
Will Power will start the 500 between teammates Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden.Penske Entertainment/Dana Garrett

Power is Second, so What’s New?

Will Power and second place are getting used to each other.

He qualified second Sunday to add to the growing list of second-place race runs he’s been on recently.

“Yeah, I just keep getting seconds this year,” Power said. “But I’m not sure I’ll ever get this positive. For some weird reasons, I just think it’s one of those things, you know, where racing gods go.

“The two days of qualifying is very stressful. You put a lot on the line, and it’s really hard to have the quickest car and the quickest team on that year. To put all that together, that’s a lot of things that have to align.”

Power said the Penske team has continued to push through the potholes of the season. He fully expected success Sunday, he said.

“I was going to be shocked if we weren’t on pole,” he said. “I was going to be shocked. We would have been really scratching our heads with as much as we’ve done. We would have been just, you know, what are we missing?”

Turns out, not much.

Rosenqvist Checks in for Honda

Felix Rosenqvist was the fastest qualifier who wasn’t driving for Chevrolet Sunday. He took the ninth spot for Honda with a speed of 232.305 for Meyer Shank Racing.

Sunday’s race will mark the third straight season Rosenqvist has started the 500 in the top 10.

“We definitely think we had more, that the track came back to us a bit, so we could have trimmed a bit more,” Rosenqvist said. “But we’re super-stoked to start in the top 10. Hopefully, we got a top-10 finish. We’re in the game. The car has been good in race trim in practice.”

This Game is a Fast One

Sunday’s speed runs make the 500 starting field the second fastest in the race’s history. Its average speed if 231.943.

The record for the grid – 232.184 – was set last year.