Scott McLaughlin beat his Team Penske team-mate and St Petersburg specialist Will Power to earn his maiden IndyCar pole position at the 2022 season-opener.
McLaughlin had topped the final practice session before qualifying and was right in the mix during IndyCar’s Fast Six pole shootout.
Power set two laps good enough to top the session until McLaughlin’s last-ditch effort moved him up to pole on a 59.4821s.
It meant McLaughlin – who had near zero single-seater experience before leaving Australia’s Supercars touring cars series for IndyCar at the end of 2020 after three straight titles – claimed his first IndyCar pole and he’ll share the front row of the grid with Power after beating him by 0.1237s.
McLaughlin had only once previously qualified in the top 10 in his short IndyCar career.
Power has taken nine of the last 12 IndyCar poles at St Pete but had to settle for second, with Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta rounding out the top three.
Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus VeeKay was fourth ahead of Andretti’s Romain Grosjean, who recovered from a practice crash with Takuma Sato that left him with bruises.
The top six was completed by Simon Pagenaud in his first qualifying session with the Meyer Shank Racing outfit.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s leading trio of drivers all failed to advance to the Fast Six with six-time Scott Dixon seventh ahead of ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson.
Dixon survived on a brush with the Turn 9 wall while on the black primary tyres and then believed he missed the optimum window on his red soft tyre run.
Penske’s two-time series champion Josef Newgarden was ninth with unspecified “issues” and “things in the background working against us”, and defending champion Alex Palou rounded out the top 10.
Graham Rahal had two new team-mates alongside him at Rahal Letterman Lanigan but neither were able to outqualify him. Rahal claimed 11th on the grid ahead of the highest-placed 2022 rookie Kyle Kirkwood in his first IndyCar qualifying session.
Alexander Rossi just missed out on a place in the Fast 12 and will line up 13th as a crucial year with Andretti begins.
AJ Foyt’s Dalton Kellett earned his best IndyCar qualifying result in 14th place ahead of RLLR’s newcomer Christian Lundgaard and Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward – who bent a tow-link when he clipped the wall at Turn 9.
MSR driver Helio Castroneves will share the ninth row with Andretti rookie Devlin DeFrancesco, ahead of Callum Ilott (Juncos Racing) and Conor Daly (ECR).
Like his McLaren team-mate O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist was unable to advance and will start 21st – where he finished in last year’s drivers’ championship after a difficult first year with the team.
Sato was 22nd in his first qualifying session with Dale Coyne Racing ahead of RLLR’s other new recruit Jack Harvey and Sato’s rookie team-mate David Malukas.
The back row of the grid will be compromised of ex-Super Formula and Formula 2 driver Tatiana Calderon and Ganassi’s Jimmie Johnson.
|1||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||59.584s||59.515s||59.482s|
|2||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||59.392s||59.346s||59.605s|
|3||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.466s||59.405s||59.71s|
|4||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||59.804s||59.623s||59.81s|
|5||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.626s||59.555s||59.811s|
|6||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.703s||59.588s||1m0.204s|
|7||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.81s||59.757s|
|8||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.881s||59.824s|
|9||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||59.914s||59.886s|
|10||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.895s||59.958s|
|11||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.776s||59.987s|
|12||Kyle Kirkwood||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||59.853s||1m0.261s|
|13||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||59.993s|
|14||Dalton Kellett||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||59.952s|
|15||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m0.027s|
|16||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m0.002s|
|17||Hélio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m0.142s|
|18||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m0.085s|
|19||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m0.212s|
|20||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m0.192s|
|21||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m0.391s|
|22||Takuma Sato||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m0.293s|
|23||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m0.533s|
|24||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsport||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m0.46s|
|25||Tatiana Calderón||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||1m0.939s|
|26||Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||1m01.027s|