Team Penske continued its march toward Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge history Saturday during the first day of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying, capturing the top three spots among the 12 drivers who will compete for the NTT P1 Award on Sunday.

Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and 2018 “500” winner Will Power turned the fastest four-lap average run, 233.758 mph, in the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet. Fellow two-time series champion and defending race winner Josef Newgarden was second at 233.332 in the No. 2 Shell Powering Progress Team Penske Chevrolet, while Scott McLaughlin was third at 233.293 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.

SEE: Qualifying Results | Qualifying Procedure

“It was a good, smooth run,” Power said. “We got an early draw, which helps. We would have liked to have run in the heat, but (team owner) Roger (Penske) didn’t want us to go out. I think (Alexander) Rossi is the one who could break up the all-Penske front row, but I think one of us (Team Penske) will get the pole. We put a lot of work in. All the cars are about the same speed.”

If the Penske trio can advance from Top 12 Qualifying and hold the top three spots at the end of Firestone Fast Six qualifying Sunday afternoon, it will be just the second front-row sweep by one team in Indianapolis 500 history. Team Penske first achieved the feat in 1988 with pole sitter Rick Mears, No. 2 qualifier Danny Sullivan and No. 3 qualifier Al Unser.

Top 12 Qualifying from 3:05-4:05 p.m. ET Sunday will whittle the field to the Firestone Fast Six that will compete for the NTT P1 Award from 5:25-5:55 p.m. In between those sessions, 2022 “500” winner Marcus Ericsson of Andretti Global, Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and Katherine Legge and rookie Nolan Siegel of Dale Coyne Racing will compete for the three final spots in the 33-car starting field in Last Chance Qualifying from 4:15-5:15 p.m.

Practice for the Top 12 will take place from noon-1 p.m., with a final practice for the Last Chance Qualifiers from 1-2 p.m.

The Team Penske dominance under sunny skies came as little surprise. Newgarden, McLaughlin and Power were the three fastest drivers, respectively, during qualifying simulations on “Fast Friday.”

All three Penske drivers benefited from favorable positions in the qualifying draw and made their sole four-lap qualifying attempts in the first hour of the six-hour, 50-minute session, when track and air temperatures were at their coolest.

Joining the Penske trio in the Top 12 Qualifying session Sunday are 2016 “500” winner Alexander Rossi of Arrow McLaren (233.069 Saturday, fourth), Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Global (232.764, fifth), rookie and 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson of Arrow McLaren/Rick Hendrick (232.563, sixth), Felix Rosenqvist of Meyer Shank Racing (232.547, seventh), Santino Ferrucci of AJ Foyt Racing (232.496, eighth), two-time “500” winner Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (232.473, ninth), Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren (232.434, 10th), Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing (232.419, 11th) and 2014 “500” winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (232.385, 12th).

Team Penske and Arrow McLaren each will feature three drivers in the Top 12 Qualifying session. Eight teams overall will be represented in the Top 12.

VeeKay made a dramatic run into the Top 12 on the penultimate qualifying attempt of the day in the No. 21 askROI Chevrolet. The run capped a mad thrash for the Ed Carpenter Racing team to rebuild the car after VeeKay crashed in Turn 3 at 11:14 a.m. on just the fourth overall attempt of the day.

He then made one waved-off attempt and a successful attempt of 231.166 in the mid-afternoon that put him toward the back of the top 30 before his nerve-wracking final run.

The last-gasp run kept alive VeeKay’s chances of qualifying in the top four for each of his five “500” starts. He just missed the pole last year to qualify second in his career-best Indy start.

“Roller coaster times three,” VeeKay said. “Started the day out with the biggest heartbreak there is. We were on the edge of the last row, and then the team, this is magic right here. They made it happen. The car felt awesome.

“This crew, they deserve a thousand dinners and a lot of beer.”

Rahal was able to enter the 2.5-mile oval just before the clock struck 5:50 p.m. to end qualifying, but he waved off the run after just one lap due to lack of speed in his No. 15 United Rentals Honda. It will be the second straight year in the Last Chance Qualifying session for Rahal, who failed to qualify for last year’s race but competed as a substitute for the injured Stefan Wilson.

There were 74 qualifying attempts in a frantic day in which air temperatures reached the low 80s, topped in Indianapolis 500 history only by the 84 attempts on the first day last year.

Public gates open at 10 a.m. Sunday at IMS.

The 108th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 26 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo, INDYCAR Radio Network).

IndyCar Series PR