McLaughlin resets Indy 500 pole record average with 234.220mph run

“To have them as close as we have them, that’s impressive,” Josef Newgarden said after Team Penske blitzed the field on Pole Day at the Indianapolis 500 where the three-car operation went 1-2-3 to lock out the front row.

After posting the fastest run in the Fast 12 earlier in the day, New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin led the group to earn his first Indy 500 pole with the No. 3 Chevy at a remarkable 234.220mph average in the Fast Six ahead of Will Power in the No. 12 Chevy (233.917mph) and Newgarden in the No. 2 Chevy (233.808mph).

“I felt like there’s two runs today were some of the best runs of my career,” McLaughlin said. “I thought the potential was there, even yesterday. It was just about getting the right balance. I knew my engineer would nail it, and they did, and when the first number came up, I just had to hold on. Got a little bit loose at the end but the Pennzoil Chevy held on. Super proud to put the Yellow Submarine back on the pole and sweep for Team Penske. What a great spot for the 108th Running [of the Indianapolis 500]. I’m really proud. I think it’s the first Team Penske clean sweep of the front row since ’88. In this day and age, that’s a proud moment.”


It was yet another statement for Kiwis after countryman Scott Dixon earned Indy 500 poles in 2021 and 2022, giving Antipodeans three of the last four top starting spots at the Speedway.

Teammate Power was rather dejected to lose out on earning his first Indy 500 pole, but went into the Fast Six with full knowledge that he was capable of going P1.

“I was going to be shocked if we weren’t on pole or fighting for it,” he said.

The story wasn’t over for Team Chevy as it captured the second row and two of the next three spots on the third row to give the oddsmakers a clear understanding of which engine supplier has the most horsepower.

Elsewhere in the top 12, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay put in a stellar performance to lay claim to seventh after crashing on Saturday.

“Seventh for the Indianapolis 500 after yesterday’s morning… sick!” said the Dutchman. “We were so close and were able to beat some fast cars today.”

The other big star of qualifying was found with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Ryan Hunter-Reay who played the role of giant killer with the No. 23 Chevy to earn 12th ahead of much bigger and wealthier teams.

At the unfortunate end of Pole Day, there was also one driver who was sent home as Bump Day carved Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 Honda driven by rookie Nolan Siegel from the starting field. A crash on his final run in the Last Chance Qualifying session sealed his fate and saved Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal, who was on the bubble from being knocked out of consecutive Indy 500s in P33.

Siegel was unharmed in the crash and was frank in his assessment after falling short in the final minute of the session.

“I’m OK,” he said over the radio. “It was [way loose]. We tried.”

Katherine Legge (P31), Marcus Ericsson (P32), and Rahal weathered the gut-wrenching LCQ and will get to take part in the race.

Once the fast 12 activities commenced as the heat migrated over 80 degrees F, Hunter-Reay went first and recorded a 230.567mph average. VeeKay was next and shot to first with 232.620mph. Pato O’Ward was next and delivered a 232.584mph to go P2.

Takuma Sato motored to a 232.171mph to claim P3, and Santino Ferrucci was up next, but lost the cloud cover that cooled the track for O’Ward and Sato. It didn’t matter, though, as Ferrucci shot to P1 with an average of 232.723mph.

Rosenqvist was up sixth and had great cloud cover to use over his four laps to produce a 232.305mph run which moved him into P4. Kyle Larson also had good cloud cover for his blast and put up a 232.788 average to take P1 to the applause and delight of the fans.

Kyle Kirkwood followed with the sun beating down on the track and delivered a 230.993 to go P7. Alexander Rossi had the same absence of cooler conditions for his run and, like Ferrucci, it made no difference as he registered the fastest run with a 233.071mph to take P1 from his teammate Larson.

Newgarden liberated P1 from Rossi with a stellar run of 233.286mph, and it was his teammate McLaughlin’s turn to make the penultimate attempt to transfer into the Fast Six and go for pole.

McLaughlin knocked Newgarden off P1 with a 233.492mph and then it was time for teammate Power to make the last run. Cloud cover emerged for Power’s last lap and held for his entire outing to miss P1 by a tiny margin at 233.483mph to take P2.

With McLaughlin, Power, Newgarden, Rossi, Larson and Ferrucci primed to go for pole, it was time for the LCQ group to run, led off by Nolan Siegel, who posted a 229.568mph.

Ericsson had a 230.653mph average through three laps but appeared to lift at start/finish at the start of the fourth lap —did he think the run was over?—to close the run with a 195.411mph lap that dropped his average to 220.702mph.

Legge dealt with more oversteer but held onto it to take P31 and lead the LCQ with a 230.092mph run. Rahal was the last to run before second attempts could be made and went 229.974mph to take P32 in front of Siegel in P33 and Ericsson in P34.

The Andretti team sat and waited to let Ericsson’s engine cool before sending him to try and bump Siegel out. With approximately 32 minutes left in the 60-minute LCQ session, Ericsson headed out and ran four slow laps averaging 168.986mph before pulling into the pits, putting on four new tires, and getting prepared to make a proper attempt to get into the show.

Ericsson rolled out with about eight minutes to go and went 230.027mph to grab P32, bumping Siegel out. Ericsson and Legge were in, Rahal was on the bubble, and Siegel’s car was pushed to the line and sent with two minutes left on the clock.

He wound the car up to 229.288mph on the first lap, nudged the wall on the exit of Turn 1, spun, and crashed. He was unhurt and, sadly, not going to participate in his first Indy 500.

The Fast Six started with Ferrucci up first and he held onto a sliding car to go 232.692mph before Larson registered a 232.846mph to move into P1. Rossi went third and dropped the fastest lap so far with a 234.062mph which generated cheers as he held onto a wiggling machine. His average of 233.090mph was enough to take P1 before the three Penske drivers went out to settle the pole.

Newgarden made a statement with his first lap—a 234.188mph—which led to more cheers. His second lap was almost as good—a 234.004mph—and his third was also good at 233.640mph and he closed it with a 233.400mph to shoot to P1 with a 233.808mph average.

Power was the penultimate pole runner and crossed the line with a 234.128mph and fell to a 233.955mph which looked like he’d stay behind Newgarden. The next lap was a 233.767mph, and on his final, a 233.819mph was enough to go P1 with an average of 233.917mph. It was up to McLaughlin to try and spoil Power’s party.

Lap one was the best of the day — a 234.526mph — and the battle was on. Lap two was another monster at 234.371mph and it was the Kiwi’s to take. Two more strong laps did the job; pole for McLaughlin and an explosion of cheers from fans on the front straight.


Story originally appeared on Racer