McLaughlin storms to weather-delayed Nashville pole – racer

McLaughlin storms to weather-delayed Nashville pole - racer

Delayed as rainfall and local lightning pushed qualifying for the Nashville Grand Prix back from 90 minutes, street racing ace Scott McLaughlin was unfazed by the afternoon break as he later rocketed around the temporary circuit to earn pole position.

It was the New Zealander’s second pole of the year – his first arrival on the streets of Saint Petersburg – and sixth for Team Penske from 14 races when the number 3 Chevy turned an incomparable lap of 1m14.555s.

Behind him, Andretti Autosport’s one saving grace was Romain Grosjean qualifying second and salvaging what proved to be a mistake-filled qualifying session for his teammates. Grosjean’s #28 Honda (+0.1420s) wasn’t that far behind McLaughlin, nor was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard, who has been making a habit of recently leading the team in time trials with the #30 Honda (+0.1594). s).

“Really proud of the guys and the car was phenomenal,” McLaughlin said. “It was one of those good laps.”

For Grosjean, the good start comes after five consecutive qualifying positions of 10th or worse.

“It feels good. It feels very good,” said Grosjean. “Good job to all my [Andretti crew]. I’m happy to be second on the grid tomorrow.”

RLL’s Lundgaard, fastest on Friday, becomes a rookie who acts like a veteran in the closing stages of the season.

“It was a very exciting session and we are making progress, which is important,” he Lundgaard.

After the Dane, the rest of the Fast Six was completed by a little distant Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing in the number 10 Honda (+0.3532s), Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP in the no. 5 Chevy (+0.3706s), and Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who was the only driver in the final round to choose primary tires (+0.5906s).

Elsewhere, championship leader Will Power was set to contest pole, but after venturing into a runoff section and displaying a local yellow flag during the Quick 12 session, his fastest lap was surrendered under the rules, and in an instant, he was demoted. from sixth to eighth when O’Ward was promoted into the Fast Six.

A mistake by Andretti’s Devlin DeFrancesco at the start of the first qualifying round led to a red flag and he was duly relegated to P25. Next, Andretti’s Colton Herta shaped the grid in a significant way after he crashed and triggered another red flag. With a number of Fast 12 contenders on their fastest laps, the session went red when Herta went into the tires and stalled with one minute left. The session was not resumed. Three of the four Andretti drivers, including two who were expected to take a run at pole – did not make it out of round one.

That left Simon Pagenaud (P13), Felix Rosenqvist (P15), a smoking Rossi (P17), Callum Ilott (P19), and Herta (P21) with plenty of ground to make up in the 80-lap race.

“A little too ambitious for what the conditions were,” Herta said of the fresh track, which had its rubber washed away when the skies opened up. “I feel really bad. I screwed myself; I screwed Rossi and probably a few other guys who were just innocent bystanders.”

A smart call by Dalton Kellett’s team to send him straight out on the faster alternate tires paid off as Herta’s mistake ended the session; with his fastest lap already in the bank, the others who were hit by the red flag – many who chose not to set an early lap – were edged out by the AJ Foyt Racing outfit as the Canadian won his first trip to the Fast 12. where he went on to take P12.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s recent qualifying struggles continued as only Palou – its lowest-placed driver in the championship – made it through into the Flintstone Speed ​​12. Citing a basic lack of speed, title contender Marcus Ericsson’s streak of terrible starting positions was maintained with run to P18; teammate Scott Dixon a few places ahead in P14.

The last bright spot of note came with RLL’s overall performance when the beleaguered Jack Harvey scored a start of P11, his second best this year on a road or street course, and when added to Graham Rahal’s run to P9 and the P3 of Lundgaard, the team. shows flashes of the form that was expected earlier in the year.

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