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Scott McLaughlin rallies back, secures pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

Written by Caitlyn Gordon

Scott McLaughlin has won his sixth career NTT P1 Award after taking pole position for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, confirming a Team Penske front row lockout alongside Will Power.

The NTT IndyCar Series headed to Alabama for its third round of the season. Practice set the precedent for the weekend with Josef Newgarden topping the sheets in the opening session with 1:06.7045. Practice Two saw Rinus VeeKay place his No.21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at the top. 

Following Noah Siegal returning to Indy NXT to focus on the remainder of the season, former Formula 2 driver Luca Ghiotto was announced to be standing in and racing the No.51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda - one of the storylines of the weekend.

How did qualifying unfold?

Round One

The first round saw some shocking exits with Scott Dixon being the biggest name knocked out. 

Rookie Ghiotto sat just outside the advancing six by four-tenths. With only two practice sessions under his belt and his first time in an open-wheel car in four years, the Italian was having an impressive IndyCar debut. But his time wasn’t enough for him to advance into the Fast 12; he will be starting in 21st - a valiant effort.

At the top of the field, Alex Palou was levels ahead of his rivals, entering the 1:06s and had six-tenths of a second separating himself and second place. His teammate Marcus Armstrong was also running strong in this session, sticking closely to his teammate's times and successfully securing his place in the Fast 12. That couldn’t be said for their teammate as Dixon struggled to grab a worthy time and will be starting in 13th. 

Colton Herta was another big name to miss out on the next round after getting bumped down by Andretti Global teammate Kyle Kirkwood.

The second group contained a lot of top names, meaning it was going to be a highly competitive 10 minutes. After securing pole position last weekend, Felix Rosenqvist once again went quickest in his group, making it the start of his hunt for a third consecutive front-row start. 

Down the field, VeeKay was complaining on the radio about a loss of power but opted to stay out, suggesting the problems weren’t detrimental. As he completed another lap, the power loss was becoming a bigger issue and he had to retreat to the pits and retire from the session. He will start from the back in 27th.

The closing stages of the session saw Penske being the team to beat with McLaughlin and Power at the front of the field.

Christian Lundgaard was setting incredible laps, securing a 1:06.5124, which secured his place into the Fast 12. Tom Blomqvist grabbed the final spot and entered his first ever Fast 12, with teammate Rosenqvist just ahead of him in fifth. 

Marcus Ericsson was the big name not to advance to the next stage from the second group, with the Swede starting in 18th - a disappointing result for Andretti with only one of its drivers making their way to the next round.

Fast 12

The competition started to heat up with the fastest 12 drivers from the opening segment racing to get out and get a time on the board. Lundgaard set the precedent for the session with a 1:07.2153 and the Dane kept his spot for the majority of the session, bettering his time after every flying lap. 

The No.11 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda of Armstrong was having a great session too, slotting himself in a strong position early on and entering his first Fast 6. His teammate Palou, on the other hand, wasn’t having a great session. 

After dominating in Round One, Palou struggled during this session, not putting any worthy times on the board. Newgarden was surprisingly in the same boat as Palou. As the clock struck zero, both Newgarden and Palou failed to transfer to the Fast Six. 

Among those who exited was Graham Rahal. After putting in some strong times, Rahal entered the pits while the remainder of the grid was putting in their final flying laps - raising questions and ultimately meaning the American wouldn’t keep hold on his position. 

As he headed down pit road, it became apparent that miscommunication between Rahal and his No.15 team meant his session was hindered, narrowly missing out on advancing by one-tenth of a second. 

Fast Six

The six fastest drivers from the Fast 12 headed out for the Fast Six with a split in strategies - three on primaries and the three on alternates. Power, who was on the latter, set the first time on the board with a 1:06.3354 before heading to pit road to switch his tyres. 

McLaughlin was the next fastest time with just two-hundredths of a second, splitting up himself and his teammate. Power was setting impressive times and it soon became apparent that the battle for pole was going to be against the two Penskes. Power went three-tenths clear of his teammate with a couple of minutes left on the clock.

After dominating in the Fast 12, Lundgaard was struggling to match the pace he had in the previous round. After heading around the 2.38-mile long circuit, he still slotted himself into third, four-tenths off Power’s lap. This marked the end of the Dane’s session as headed to pit road to conclude the end of his qualifying. 

With a couple of seconds on the clock, McLaughlin completed his final flying lap, surpassing the time of his teammate by crossing the line shortly under one-tenth of a second quicker than his teammate to secure his first pole position of the season. 


1. Scott McLaughlin

2. Will Power

3. Christian Lundgaard

4. Pato O’Ward

5. Felix Rosenqvist

6. Marcus Armstrong

7. Graham Rahal

8. Josef Newgarden

9. Kyle Kirkwood

10. Alex Palou

11. Romain Grosjean

12. Tom Blomqvist

13. Scott Dixon

14. Christian Rasmussen

15. Colton Herta

16. Alexander Rossi

17. Santino Ferrucci

18. Marcus Ericsson

19. Linus Lundqvist

20. Agustin Canapino

21. Luca Ghiotto

22. Jack Harvey

23. Kyffin Simpson

24. Theo Pourchaire

25. Sting Ray Robb

26. Pietro Fittipaldi

27. Rinus VeeKay


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