By: Spencer Neff
February 26, 2022
After a first start in the 2020 finale and a 2021 appearance here at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Scott McLaughlin proved the proverbial third time is the charm.
On Saturday afternoon, the Team Penske driver earned his first career pole position in his 18th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start as he begins his second full-time season. He will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday afternoon’s 100-lap race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida.
McLaughlin earned his second Fast Six appearance (Indianapolis 1-2021) and made the most of it. After leading the morning practice, he topped his teammate Will Power with a best lap of 59.4821 seconds (108.940 mph).
The Christchurch, New Zealand driver was .1237 of a second ahead of the field. In a record-breaking qualifying, here’s how the rest of the day played out.
Group 1: Results
The track record previously set by Jordan King and Ed Carpenter Racing in 2018 was broken by eight of 13 drivers in the first group of qualifiers. Herta topped the 10-minute session with a best lap of 59.4662 seconds (108.969 mph).
Following Herta into Round 2 would be Graham Rahal, Rinus VeeKay, Scott Dixon, Kyle Kirkwood and Josef Newgarden. Despite posting times that bested the 1m00.0476 track record, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard did not advance.
Also not advancing out of the opening group were Helio Castroneves, Callum Illott, Felix Rosenqvist, Jack Harvey and Tatiana Calderón. All seven drivers who did not advance will line up on the outside of Rows 7-13 on Sunday.
Group 2: Results
In the second group, Power topped Herta’s track record with a best lap of 59.3929 (109.104). Seven of the 13 drivers ran a best lap under a minute, with eight in total besting the track record.
Joining Power in the Fast 12 were teammate Scott McLaughlin, Romain Grosjean, Simon Pagenaud, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou.
A.J. Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett and Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward were the first drivers unable to advance. They, along with Devlin DeFrancesco, Conor Daly, Takuma Sato, David Malukas and Jimmie Johnson will be on the outside of the final seven rows on the grid.
Round 2-Fast 12
With a best lap of 59.3466, Power bested his own track record as he continued on to the Fast Six. Advancing with him were Herta, McLaughlin, Grosjean, Pagenaud and VeeKay.
The dozen drivers were separated by just .915 of a second, as Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Josef Newgarden, Alex Palou, Graham Rahal and Kyle Kirkwood did not advance. They will line tip seventh through Twelfth on the grid. Kirkwood was the only rookie to advance to Round 2.
Round 3-Fast 6
Despite topping the field in both of his previous sessions, Power fell short of his 10th pole at St. Petersburg and starts on the outside of the front row. Herta and VeeKay will occupy Row 2 with Grosjean and Pagenaud taking Row 3.
With qualifying done, the focus turns to race day. Here is the on-track schedule for tomorrow.
Sunday, Feb. 27
8:45-9:15 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium
Noon – NBC Sports on air
12:23 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”
12:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding (100 laps / 181 miles), NBC, Telemundo and Peacock Premium (Live)
Header Image and Schedule By INDYCAR
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