McLaughlin, Power Sweep Front Row in Penske Rebound at Barber

Team Penske rallied from one of the most tumultuous weeks in its storied history by seizing both front-row starting spots for the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix powered by AmFirst on Saturday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park.

Scott McLaughlin earned his first NTT P1 Award of the season and his sixth career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole with his final lap of 1 minute, 5.9490 seconds during the Firestone Fast Six session in the No. 3 Good Ranchers Team Penske Chevrolet. His teammate Will Power qualified second at 1:06.0460 in the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet.

SEE: Qualifying Results

The strong performance came at the end of a week in which Team Penske was penalized for illegal use of the Push to Pass system at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. McLaughlin and teammate Josef Newgarden were disqualified from the race, while Power received a 10-point penalty.

“It’s been tough,” McLaughlin said. “The Good Ranchers Chevy was so good today, and I just wanted to give these guys and girls on the team an opportunity to be back on front row and back on pole. In the last couple of races, we just haven’t hit it in qualifying.

“This means a lot. We’ve just got to keep focusing like this for the rest of the season and keep working hard.”

Up next is the prerace warmup at 10:15 a.m. ET Sunday (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network). Live coverage of the 90-lap race starts at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Reigning Barber winner McLaughlin earned the 300th INDYCAR SERIES pole position for the fabled team owned by Roger Penske. Power fell just .0097 of a second short of earning his series record-extending 71st pole as Team Penske swept the front row at an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race for the first time since last August on the oval at World Wide Technology Raceway, where McLaughlin and Newgarden took the top two spots, respectively.

“I’ve said it all year: We’re going to be quick everywhere,” Power said. “I’m not surprised. It was obviously a pretty rough week for everyone on the team. Pretty disappointing, but we moved forward quickly.”

McLaughlin stole the top spot in dramatic fashion on his final lap around the 17-turn, 2.3-mile natural road course. He hovered within tens of thousands of a second of Power’s top time, keeping the advantage by ripping through the daunting Turns 12-13 complex.

“I sent it pretty hard through the last couple of corners,” McLaughlin said. “Any time you get a chance to get a Team Penske front row, that’s the main thing. I’m very proud of everyone.”

Christian Lundgaard qualified a season-best third at 1:06:0818 in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Pato O’Ward, who inherited the St. Petersburg victory after Newgarden was disqualified, also will start on the second row after qualifying fourth at 1:06.2940 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet.

Felix Rosenqvist continued the strong start to his season in his new environs at Meyer Shank Racing, qualifying fifth at 1:06.4524 in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda. Rosenqvist has qualified in the top five for all three points-paying races in 2024.

Marcus Armstrong ended his first career appearance in the Firestone Fast Six by qualifying a career-best sixth at 1:06.9022 in the No. 11 Root Insurance Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.

Graham Rahal just missed joining RLL teammate Lundgaard in the Firestone Fast Six and will start seventh after a best lap of 1:06.0942 during the second qualifying round in the No. 15 Hendrickson Honda. Newgarden, who offered his reaction to the Push to Pass penalties in an emotional press conference Friday, qualified eighth at 1:06.2908 in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet.

Points leader and six-time series champion Scott Dixon qualified a season-low 13th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. But Dixon is a master of strategy and reading a race from deep in the pack, as he won the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach last Sunday after starting eighth.

2022 Barber pole winner Rinus VeeKay, quickest in the morning practice, qualified last in the 27-car field after being saddled with an electrical problem in his No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet during the first round of qualifying.

Indycar PR