Scott McLaughlin delivered his second IndyCar pole with the fastest time at Nashville to beat a resurgent Romain Grosjean, after lightning during a rainstorm caused a 90-minute delay.
Grosjean had put his Andretti car on top during the Fast Six, getting ahead of Christian Lundgaard - but McLaughlin eclipsed the Frenchman's time late on - posting a 1m14.5555s to collect pole position for Sunday's race.
At the start of the Fast Six session, five of the six drivers emerged from the pits on alternate tyres - with only Josef Newgarden coming out on primaries and with enough fuel to last him throughout the session.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Lundgaard had a long lock-up on his alternates braking into Turn 4, requiring a fresh set, but then delivered a 1m14.7149s.
The Dane, however, was then beaten by 0.0174s by Grosjean. But McLaughlin saved his best until last to land a 1m14.5555s, 0.142s faster than Grosjean to claim top spot.
Alex Palou was 0.35s shy of pole in fourth place but marginally ahead of Pato O’Ward, while Newgarden’s tyre tactic failed to work, and was almost 0.6s from pole in sixth.
David Malukas was top of the pile among the six cars eliminated in Q2, thus granting the Dale Coyne Racing rookie with seventh on the grid - ahead of Will Power.
Will Power should have been through, but he slid into the Turn 9 run-off, and that caused a local yellow flag that briefly impeded O’Ward.
That meant Power had his best lap deleted, dropping him to eighth, and appropriately allowed O’Ward into the Fast Six.
Graham Rahal claimed ninth on the grid, ahead of Rinus VeeKay - who recently extended his deal with Ed Carpenter Racing on a multi-year basis.
Jack Harvey ensured all three RLL cars advanced to Q2, looking at least as strong as they did in Toronto, while AJ Foyt Racing's Dalton Kellet progressed into the top 12 for the first time.
Those who did not progress included Ganassi’s title contenders Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson, the pair split by Kyle Kirkwood who was disappointed not to pull through having been fifth quickest in second practice.
In Q1, Devlin DeFrancesco’s car came to a halt at Turn 4 with six minutes remaining, causing a red flag and thus eliminated himself from qualifying. This came before anyone had set a meaningful lap on primaries, prompting everyone to then emerge from the pits on the alternate tyres.
Last year’s polesitter Colton Herta locked up going into Turn 4 and slid into the tyre wall. His car stalled, and that brought out the red flag once more.
That ended the session, leaving two potential Fast Six contenders – team-mate Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist – unable to graduate having not set a representative time.
IndyCar Nashville Fast Six
|1||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||3||1'14.5555||101.401|
|2||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||3||1'14.6975||0.1420||0.1420||101.208|
|3||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||3||1'14.7149||0.1594||0.0174||101.185|
|4||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||4||1'14.9087||0.3532||0.1938||100.923|
|5||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||3||1'14.9261||0.3706||0.0174||100.899|
|6||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||4||1'15.1461||0.5906||0.2200||100.604|
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