Scott McLaughlin led a qualifying assault by Team Penske, claiming the top spot in the starting lineup for Sunday’s IndyCar Grand Prix of Portland.
Teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power took the next two spots in qualifying, though Newgarden will be starting eighth because of a grid penalty. That will put the Dallara-Chevrolets of McLaughlin and Power side by side on the front row heading into Portland’s treacherous Turn 1.
“Credit to everyone at Team Penske,” McLaughlin told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “We weren’t great here last year but we’ve come back here with three hot rods. We’re all pushing each other, Will, Josef and myself. To get pole is obviously a great thing. The Chevy power is great. I’m looking forward to the race.”
REDS OR BLACKS: Starting lineup with tire designations
INDYCAR AT PORTLAND: Details for watching Sunday on NBC
All three drivers are in the fight for the championship with two races remaining. Power leads the standings by three points over Newgarden.
Unlike his teammates, McLaughlin is seeking his first title and said the rules are clear for how Roger Penske’s cars will race each other.
“We know that when we get employed what we need to do,” said McLaughlin, who gained a point with the pole and now trails by 53 points. “When the team wins, we all win. For me, I’ve just got to focus on what I’m doing. If I can be at the front and take points off others by winning the race, that’s exactly what we want to do.
RETWEET to congratulate @smclaughlin93!
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) September 3, 2022
“Until I’m mathematically out of it, I want to keep going hard and keep trying to win races. I’m feeling really good in the car. We’re building on to really good things for next year. I’m really proud of this group. These guys and these gals work very hard and I’m very proud of them. It’s a really big testament to them.”
It’s the third pole position this season for McLaughlin. He won after starting first in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, and he finished second from the pole last month on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.
Two other championship contenders made the Fast Six final round of qualifying: Alex Palou (fourth) and Pato O’Ward (fifth).
Teammates Scott Dixon (16th) and Marcus Ericsson (18th) will need to keep their championship bids alive while starting deeper in the field. Both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers were eliminated in the first round of qualifying.
All the contenders will be on guard entering the first lap as Portland’s Turn 1 often produces contact at the green flag.
“It’s definitely the most unpredictable” turn in IndyCar, Newgarden said. “When it goes according to plan, it’s fine. More times than not, that doesn’t happen.”
Power said Portland has “the wost first corner in the whole series. You’re at the mercy of all the guys behind you and just hoping they do the right thing.
“Yeah, such a bad corner. Such an inviting, wide corner. Not ideal for the second-to-last race of the season.”
IndyCar officials distributed a memo to drivers and teams Saturday afternoon outlining start procedures for Sunday’s race.
The acceleration zone for the pole-sitter will be the exit of the Turn 12 (the final corner), and drivers who take a shortcut at the Turn 2 apex curbing must make every effort to utilize second Turn 1 runoff chicane.
Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s Portland Grand Prix on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed):
1. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 58.2349 (121.412)
2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 58.4254 (121.016)
3. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 58.4482 (120.969)
4. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 58.5075 (120.846)
5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 58.6090 (120.637)
6. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 58.3475 (121.177)
7. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 58.3925 (121.084)
8. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 58.3129 (121.249)–**
9. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 58.3983 (121.072)
10. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 58.4038 (121.061)
11. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 58.4475 (120.970)
12. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 58.5356 (120.788)
13. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 58.4865 (120.889)
14. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 58.1988 (121.487)
15. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 58.5097 (120.842)
16. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 58.2628 (121.354)
17. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 58.5332 (120.793)
18. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 58.3064 (121.263)
19. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 58.6898 (120.471)
20. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 58.4398 (120.986)
21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 58.7534 (120.340)
22. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 58.6058 (120.643)
23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 59.1933 (119.446)
24. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 58.6127 (120.629)
25. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 59.0082 (119.821)
**–Penalized six grid positions for an engine penalty