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IndyCar Nashville: McLaughlin beats Grosjean to pole

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

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Interval Mph
1 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 3 1'14.5555     101.401
2 France Romain Grosjean United States Andretti Autosport 3 1'14.6975 0.1420 0.1420 101.208
3 Denmark Christian Lundgaard United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 3 1'14.7149 0.1594 0.0174 101.185
4 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 4 1'14.9087 0.3532 0.1938 100.923
5 Mexico Patricio O'Ward United States Arrow McLaren SP 3 1'14.9261 0.3706 0.0174 100.899
6 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 4 1'15.1461 0.5906 0.2200 100.604
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