McLaughlin waits out weather delays to beat O’Ward to Nashville pole


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Scott McLaughlin won pole for this weekend’s Music City Grand Prix with a blistering final lap in the Fast Six session – his first pole of the season and second straight pole around the streets of Nashville.

Qualifying was delayed for over three-and-a-half hours due to heavy rainfall and standing water around the Nashville street circuit. Thankfully, by the rescheduled start time of 5:15pm, the clouds had parted and the track was completely dry as well as green, leaving plenty of room for track evolution.

Regardless, McLaughlin was brilliant in all phases of qualifying: He led his group in the first round, and was the only Penske driver that advanced to the Fast Six. Armed with a set of scuffed alternate-compound tyres, the Kiwi put together a blistering final run, taking the top spot with a lap of 1’14.610 to win pole position by three-tenths of a second.

Pato O’Ward qualified second for McLaren, making the front row an all-Chevrolet affair. Colton Herta, now a resident of the Nashville area, will start third, next to championship leader Alex Palou in fourth place.

Palou has an 80-point lead over Nashville native Josef Newgarden, who missed the cut to make the Fast Six and will start ninth. With just five races remaining including this weekend, Palou has an opportunity to virtually put the Astor Challenge Cup, IndyCar’s championship trophy, out of reach to the rest of the field tomorrow.

David Malukas was an excellent fifth-fastest, out-qualifying Romain Grosjean in sixth.

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Will Power had a number of close calls – and even a brush with the wall – over his qualifying session. For his efforts, he could do no better than seventh-fastest, eliminated in the second round of qualifying that was disrupted by a rare clash with the barriers from Scott Dixon.

McLaughlin took pole by three tenths
Dixon clipped the inside wall at turn two which bounced him into the outside concrete wall, bringing out a red flag with 18 seconds left on the clock. Race Control allowed the remaining cars enough time to set one more flying lap, but there was no change in the top six drivers once those laps were completed.

That left Power in seventh, Kyle Kirkwood in eighth, and Alexander Rossi in tenth behind the aforementioned Newgarden. With the deletion of his two fastest laps, Dixon will start 12th.

One driver who was satisfied to make the second round of qualifying was the debuting Linus Lundqvist, who replaced Simon Pagenaud this weekend as the Frenchman recovers from concussion symptoms lingering after a practice accident in Mid-Ohio.

Lundqvist, the reigning Indy NXT (Indy Lights) champion, wasn’t able to secure the budget for a full-season ride due to a slash in the champion’s prize fund – but he made up for the lost opportunities quickly, advancing out of his group in round one, and qualifying a solid 11th, best of all the rookies including F2 alumnus Marcus Armstrong. Lundqvist greatly outclassed his fellow Indy NXT graduates Sting Ray Robb, and Benjamin Pedersen – the latter of whom brought out a red flag just one minute into the first group qualifying session.

Further down the order, Toronto street race winner Christian Lundgaard will start 13th, and Marcus Ericsson, a previous winner in Nashville, will start a lowly 22nd.

Typically around a technical street circuit, McLaughlin would have a prime opportunity to convert pole position into a victory, but the two previous iterations of this event have been anything but routine.

Currently, the weather outlook for Sunday’s 80-lap race has only a minor threat of thunderstorms later in the afternoon. The green flag for the third annual Music City Grand Prix is scheduled for 11:30am local time, 17:30pm UK time.

Music City Grand Prix qualifying results

13Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
25Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
326Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
410Alex PalouGanassiHonda
518David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
628Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
712Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
827Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
92Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
107Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
1160Linus LundqvistMeyer ShankHonda
129Scott DixonGanassiHonda
1345Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
146Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
1515Graham RahalRLLHonda
1611Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
1706Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
1877Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
1921Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
2030Jack HarveyRLLHonda
2114Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
228Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
2378Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2451Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
2555Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2629Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
2720Ryan Hunter-ReayCarpenterChevrolet

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RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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3 comments on “McLaughlin waits out weather delays to beat O’Ward to Nashville pole”

  1. Tiaki Porangi
    6th August 2023, 6:50

    So happy to see how Scottie has settled into Indy Car. I wonder if he could make the transition to F1 as well? His performances in V8 SuperCars were always fantastic!
    As an aside – also interesting to see how Shane van Gisbergen went to Chicago, his first NASCAR outing, and won the race! Seems the SuperCars background is a great one to have for other racing series.
    @Keithcollantine any chance of extending your coverage here to WRC, SuperCars, and/or MotoGP?

    1. WRC is not racing and MotoGP is such a different sport that I dont think Keith has ever followed it.

      All top 10 IndyCar drivers could get into a RedBull and start winning F1 races tomorrow. So what? F1 is a wasteland for talent, I wouldnt want to go there just to drive around in a Williams.

    2. Scott has done a great job Indy Car. He’s obviously very talented, has tons of experience on street courses where he does well.

      van Gisbergen has tons of experience on street courses, and SuperCars are somewhat similar to a NASCAR. NASCAR has never raced on a street course so he had an advantage even though it was his first outing. It will be a far different story for him on ovals.

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