Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin took his fifth IndyCar pole and his first on an oval, but will roll off from 10th for this afternoon’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 after taking a nine-place grid penalty, leaving the front row to teammate Josef Newgarden and Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta.
McLaughlin was the only driver to run a 183mph lap of the 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway in this morning’s qualifying session and produced an average of 182.951mph.
As if the session hadn’t been delayed enough — by almost a full day due to the torrential conditions in Madison, Illinois on Saturday — there was a further hold-up to clean the track after a couple of USAC cars spewed fluids on the asphalt.
Finally the action got underway with the cars running in reverse championship entrant point order, thus full-time owner and part-time driver Ed Carpenter hit the track first. His two laps were 174mph efforts, his second lap being 0.4mph faster than his first, but this was immediately shaded by rookie Benjamin Pedersen of AJ Foyt Racing, who was in the 176 zone.
Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing ran a 176.751 on his first lap but leapt to 178.845 on his second, producing a two-lap average of 177.792, but both of Devlin DeFrancesco’s laps were high 178s so he went to the top of the speed charts.
That didn’t last long, as Conor Daly — replacing Jack Harvey in the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda — topped the 180mph barrier on his second lap to generate a 179.928mph average. That survived a strong attack from rookie Linus Lundqvist, still subbing for Simon Pagenaud in the Meyer Shank Racing entry.
Santino Ferrucci was the first driver to run 180mph on his first lap, but he felt the rear of his Foyt car dramatically let go at Turns 3-4 and had to back out, and so his second lap was only a 172.
David Malukas was the first drive to run two laps north of 180mph, and his second lap was 181.256 — the fastest lap yet seen this weekend — so the average for the Dale Coyne Racing Honda driver was an impressive 181.091.
Takuma Sato, in his final race for Chip Ganassi Racing Honda this year, went to the top of the charts with a 181.427mph average, after becoming the first driver to run 181s on both laps. However, he is one of several drivers who will have to drop nine places on the grid due to his car’s early engine change.
Felix Rosenqvist of Arrow McLaren Chevrolet immediately edged him with a 181.104 followed by the first 182mph lap, and moved to the top. That was an average that Romain Grosjean of Andretti Autosport Honda couldn’t match, but RoGro’s teammate Colton Herta went fastest with two 181.9 laps.
Will Power — in a rebuilt car after last night’s shunt — produced a 180.774mph — while the driver who he struck, Marcus Ericsson, had a major struggle in the spare Ganassi car sheathed in American Legion colors, running two 178.8s.
Pato O’Ward shaded teammate Rosenqvist to claim second (for now), but McLaughlin set a 182.5 followed by a 183.395, to set an average of 182.951. That was better than four-time WWTR winner Newgarden could manage, but Newgarden will start from pole thanks to McLaughlin being among those taking a nine-place grid drop.
That’s also applicable to the last two runners, Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, who ran 181.4 and 181.5mph averages respectively.
STARTING LINEUP (with penalties applied)