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McLaughlin storms to record pole for the 108th Indy 500

The grid is set for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500. While McLaughlin stormed to an epic pole, plenty of action led up to that.

Saturday: Chip Ganassi Racing misses Top 12

Day 1 of qualifying for the 108th Indianapolis 500 saw plenty of action and chaos. There was not only drama but plenty of upsets as well.

Arguably the biggest upset is Chip Ganassi Racing. Last year, their pace was electric, and Alex Palou started on pole.

This year there was not a single CGR Honda in the top 12. The highest qualifying Ganassi is the championship leader Palou in 14th. His teammates Armstrong, Simpson, Scott Dixon, and Linus Lundqvist are all down in 16th, 18th, 21st, and 27th respectively.

Saturday: Veekay’s sensational comeback

Of all the 34 drivers taking part in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, Rinus Veekay had the biggest roller coaster weekend.

Veekay and his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet have always been fast in qualifying at the Brickyard.  Despite that pace still being there, this year’s efforts were halted when Rinus crashed violently during his first run.

Thankfully, he was fourth in line (very early in the day) which gave his team valuable time to get the spare car and get it in running order.

In a Herculean effort by the N0. 21 ECR Chevy crew, they got a racecar back in Veekay’s hands just in time. The young Dutchman made it count when he got back behind the wheel.

With seconds left, Rinus Veekay put in an excellent/crucial average of 232.419 and got his Chevrolet into the top 12. He is starting the race in 7th after a solid performance the next day in Fast Twelve.

Veekay/ECR’s Saturday story is an excellent example of what makes qualifying at Indianapolis so special.

Rinus Veekay and his ECR crew celebrating their spot in the Fast 12

Saturday: Rahal, Legge, Siegel, and Ericsson fall to bump day

Graham Rahal’s nightmare Indianapolis qualifying scenario repeated itself as the Rahal Letterman Lannigan driver failed to breach the top 30.

His former RLL teammate Katherine Legge also failed to reach the top 30. The Briton struggled all day to gain confidence in her Elf Cosmetics Dale Coyne Racing Honda.

Despite that, she did treat us to an amazing moment at the end of a run where she clipped the wall at turn 4 and kept her foot planted.

Meanwhile, at Andretti, Marcus Ericsson’s weekend struggles continued. After a massive crash during Thursday’s practice, the 2022 Indy 500 champ has been struggling to get to grips with the spare No. 28 Honda. While they made solid progress, it was not enough to avoid bump day.

Nolan Siegel, who was also recovering from a big crash failed to get his DCR Honda out of the danger zone.

Sunday: Chevy eclipses Honda in Fast 12

A common tale of this week’s practice and now qualifying his Honda’s startling lack of pace at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At the end of the first session of Sunday’s qualifying, no Honda-powered cars made it to the Firestone Fast Six.

The highest qualifying Honda was Felix Rosenqvist, who put his AutoNation/Sirius XM Meyer Shank Racing machine in 9th.

Rinus Veekay, Pato O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Takuma Sato, Kyle Kirkwood, and Ryan Hunter-Reay were eliminated and filled the 7–12 spots for the race.

Sunday: Last Chance

Marcus Ericsson during Last Chance Qualifying

This year’s Last Chance qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 had all the drama one could ask for.

Ericsson’s woes continued even further as he abandoned his first run. After completing some cool-down laps and the car was diagnosed to be fine, he would do another run after Legge, Rahal, and Siegel to successfully make it into the Indy 500.

After Ericsson abandoned his first run, Katherine Legge put down a 230.092 mph to secure her spot for 31st place in the big show.

Graham Rahal qualified 33rd just behind Ericsson in his United Rentals RLL Honda, avoiding the repeat of last year’s heartbreak.

Unfortunately, Nolan Siegel’s Indy 500 dreams came to an end. He was forced to go out again after Ericsson put him in the drop zone.

The 19-year-old crashed into the wall, ending his day and the session. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Indy NXT star.

Sunday: Fast Six

It was an all-Chevrolet cast for the Firestone Fast Six for the 108th Indianapolis 500. AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci was the first man on track and will start the race in sixth.

Following that were Arrow McLaren’s Kyle Larson and Alexander Rossi. The 2016 Indianapolis 500 champion was the first driver to hit an average of 234 mph on a single lap. His efforts earned him a second-row starting spot in P4.

Meanwhile, Larson put in an impressive performance to start the race in P5. To qualify in the top 5 for the Indy 500 and then immediately fly away to do a NASCAR Cup Series race is no easy feat.

Kyle Larson during Indy 500 practice
Kyle Larson during Indy 500 practice

As predicted by their blistering pace, the battle for the pole was between the three Team Penske Chevrolet’s.

Josef Newgarden was the first to go and secured a third-place starting spot. Will Power was next and bested his teammate in the Verizon car.

Ultimately it was Scott McLaughlin who not only won his first Indy 500 pole but also set a record for the fastest four-lap average pole speed in the history of this motor race. The speed set by the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevy was an immense 234.220 mph.

This was also the first Team Penske has swept the front row of the 500 since 1988. They remain the only team to achieve this feat.

Can anyone stop Penske?

Josef Newgarden (left), Will Power (middle) and Scott McLaughlin (right) lock out the all Penske front row.

The stage is set for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. There are many questions to be asked, but the biggest one remains; can Penske be stopped?

We’ll get the answer in one week when the 108th Indianapolis 500 goes green.

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