Larson makes the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ as Team Penske locks down front row qualifying for the Indy 500

Will Power has been confident in his prediction that Team Penske would secure the pole position for the Indianapolis 500, and this assurance has persisted for over a month.

Roger Penske was eager to communicate with his driver and address the cheating scandal that the team was embroiled in. With the disqualification of Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin from the season-opening race, Penske, the owner of the race team, IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indy 500, wanted his three-driver team to maintain a lower profile.

Despite the suspension of four team employees, including Tim Cindric, the president of Team Penske and the strategist for defending Indy 500 winner Newgarden, Power remains convinced.

Power was moving forward without any delays.

McLaughlin took the lead in the renowned “Yellow Submarine” entry as he led a Team Penske dominance in qualifying for the Indy 500. Setting a new track record on Sunday, McLaughlin achieved an impressive four-lap average speed of 234.220 mph, surpassing the previous record of 234.217 mph set by reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou last year.

Team Penske achieved a remarkable feat by securing the front row of the starting grid for the first time in over three decades. Will Power claimed the second spot, while Josef Newgarden followed closely behind in third. This impressive performance by the Penske team harks back to 1988 when Rick Mears, Al Unser Sr., and Danny Sullivan achieved a similar feat.

“What an incredible display of teamwork we’ve witnessed throughout this entire month, and it’s truly inspiring to see us bounce back from the challenges we’ve faced,” Penske expressed. “This just goes to show the immense depth of talent we have within our team. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Tim Cindric and all the individuals who couldn’t be here with us, as they played an integral role in making this remarkable achievement a reality.”

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“We will begin by ensuring that the cars are positioned correctly. It has been nearly 36 years since we last approached the situation this way. We conducted thorough research and successfully fulfilled our commitments.”

Penske drivers dominated the race, leading 192 out of 200 laps. The victory went to Mears, who piloted the “Yellow Submarine” car, sponsored by Pennzoil. In a fitting tribute to the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, McLaughlin will be driving an identical car in the upcoming May 26 race. To further honor Mears, Team Penske has recreated his winning firesuit for McLaughlin to wear on race day.

Penske fondly reminisced about the Yellow Submarine and Mears’ impressive feat of sitting on the pole during a time when they had three cars on the front day. It was truly a special day, according to Penske.

McLaughlin enthusiastically exclaimed, “Let’s bring this Yellow Submarine back to victory lane!”

Power made his prediction based on the amount of offseason work that Penske had dedicated to winning the 20th Indy 500, a record-breaking achievement. This dedication had clearly annoyed his fellow competitors, as Alexander Rossi hinted at after qualifying in fourth place for Arrow McLaren Racing.

“I’m really pleased with my starting position for the race, and I’ll use it as a stepping stone to further success,” Rossi expressed. “I must admit, it’s a bit frustrating dealing with all the chatter surrounding the situation, but it also serves as great motivation for me.”

Kyle Larson, who qualified fifth for his Indianapolis 500 debut, followed Rossi. He becomes the fifth driver to attempt competing in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

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After Rossi displaced Larson from the pole position, Larson swiftly made his way to the waiting SUVs. They whisked him away to a helicopter stationed on the golf course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The purpose of this expedited journey was to transport Larson to North Carolina in time for his participation in NASCAR’s All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. In order to accommodate Larson’s arrival, NASCAR adjusted the start time of the prestigious $1 million race by 16 minutes.

Jeff Gordon, the vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, reflected on the disbelief surrounding Kyle Larson. As the No. 17 car’s qualifying run came to an end, Gordon, who is collaborating with Arrow McLaren, couldn’t help but applaud from the timing stand.

Gordon expressed a change in his perspective, stating, “I used to hold the same belief, but now I don’t.” He further praised the individual, describing how they consistently rise to the occasion and highlighting the enjoyment derived from observing their actions.

Santino Ferrucci, a driver with A.J. Foyt Racing, is reaping the rewards of a fresh partnership with Team Penske. In the final group qualifying, Chevrolet drivers secured the top six spots, with Ferrucci qualifying in sixth place. The highest qualifying Honda drivers were Felix Rosenqvist of Meyer Shank Racing at ninth, followed by two-time winner Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Global.

Chip Ganassi Racing was unable to secure a spot in the Fast 12 during Sunday’s qualifying session, resulting in all five of their cars being left out of the competition. As a result, the entire team had the day off.

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The bottom four drivers in the field, including former Ganassi driver Marcus Ericsson, had a different experience. Marcus Ericsson, who won the 500 for Ganassi in 2022 and finished second to Newgarden last year, made a decision to leave the team after receiving a better financial offer from Andretti in free agency.

Despite his initial struggles with his new team, he managed to secure a spot in the field of 33 after a nerve-wracking crash during practice last week. In a dramatic final run, Ericsson successfully clinched the 32nd spot, bumping Nolan Siegel out of contention.

The 19-year-old made one last attempt while Graham Rahal, who didn’t qualify for the race last year, waited anxiously on the bubble. As it became evident that Siegel’s attempt wouldn’t allow Rahal enough time to make a run if he got bumped, Rahal took off his helmet in frustration and watched, eagerly awaiting his fate.

During the Indy 500 practice sessions this week, Siegel, the first driver to crash, unfortunately, had a crash during his qualifying run. As a result, he finished 34th in the field and did not qualify for the race.

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