Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Team Penske Trio Leads Fast Friday at Indianapolis, Siegel Takes Flight

By Kirby Arnold, Special Contributor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Operating without key personnel after suspensions because of the push-to-pass scandal, there’s one thing Team Penske isn’t lacking at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 


Penske’s three cars posted the top three four-lap speeds Friday in preparation for Saturday qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. 

Josef Newgarden averaged 234.063 mph in his mid-afternoon simulated qualifying run, Scott McLaughlin 233.623 and Will Power 233.451. 

After one more short practice Saturday morning, qualifying will lock the fastest 30.  The Fast 12 will return Sunday for two rounds of qualifying to determine the first two rows of the race, and the slowest four will run again to determine who makes the race and which of the 34 entries is bumped. 

Newgarden lost his race strategist, Penske president Tim Cindric, and race engineer, Luke Mason, while Power lost strategist Ron Ruzewski and data engineer Robbie Atkinson, all suspended for their part in the use of illegal push-to-pass at the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla. 

But the Penske cars have been fast all week. 

“I think the strength of this team is showing,” Newgarden said. “We feel like we are in a good spot. We’ve got a lot of good people and it’s also bigger than one person. When we lose somebody, we try to fill it in with our strength.” 

Good fortune also followed Team Penske in the draw for qualifying positions, which could favor those going out early with temperatures expected to climb to the mid-80s on Saturday. McLaughlin will be the second to qualify, Power ninth and Newgarden 10th

“You can never get ahead of yourself here,” Newgarden said. “That’s been my experience running here the past 12 years. I think we’re in a good spot, there’s no doubt. We’ve shown up prepared and now we need to execute.” 

Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Global drew the No. 1 qualifying spot. 

NASCAR star Kyle Larson, driving for Team McLaren, will be sixth in line. His best four-lap qualifying sim Friday of 232.549 mph was 10th fastest and best of the rookies. He also was second on the overall speed list at 234.271 with aerodynamic help from traffic ahead of him. 

All five drivers from Chip Ganassi Racing were deep on the list in no-tow speeds, with rookie Marcus Armstrong 23rd, Scott Dixon 24th, Alex Palou 25th, rookie Linus Lundqvist 29th and rookie Kyffin Simpson 32nd

Palou suffered an engine failure early in practice and didn’t get back on track until about 15 minutes remained in practice. He ran only 18 laps Friday. 

Marcus Ericsson, who crashed his Andretti Global car Thursday, ran 44 laps Friday in a backup car and was 22nd fastest overall. 

The biggest hit of the month occurred early in practice when rookie Nolan Siegel spun his Dale Coyne Racing Honda exiting Turn 2 and pounded the outside concrete wall – making contact past the end of the SAFER Barrier. The car came off the wall backward, caught air and blew over, coming down hard on the top of the aeroscreen before sliding upside down. 

Siegel wasn’t hurt, but the car was ruined, forcing the Coyne team to pull out a road-course car that will be re-configured for the oval. 

Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

With coverage extending from ARCA, NASCAR, IndyCar, and Formula 1, Motorsports Tribune is one of the premier outlets for racing news in the United States. We are a team of the hardest-working and most trusted names in the industry that are all about honoring the past, present, and future of auto racing.