Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin rocketed to the top of the time sheets at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca as the final practice session ahead of this afternoon’s NTT IndyCar Series qualifying session wound to a close. Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta was sitting pretty in P1 until McLaughlin set a wicked lap of 1m10.8755s on Firestone’s faster red-banded tires.
The New Zealander was the only driver to dip below a 1m11s tour of the 2.2-mile road course, and behind his No. 3 Chevy, Herta was close in the No. 26 Honda with a 1m11.0224s (+0.1469s) lap. Championship leader Alex Palou was towards the bottom of the sheets until late in the 45-minute session, and after posting a best on Firestone’s primary tires that was good for third or fourth in that group, he bolted on the red alternates and leapt to P3 in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (+0.1557s).
Penske’s team brought speed Saturday morning with Simon Pagenaud in P4 (0.4626s) and Will Power in P5 (+0.5181s); Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist completed the top six in the No. 7 Chevy (+0.5845s).
Surprises during the session included title contender Pato O’Ward who was P20 — slower than on Friday. It was a similar note for championship rival Scott Dixon, who was P18, and on the flipside, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott was an impressive P19, just 0.0165s off of the six-time title winner.
The session was stopped twice for high-speed crashes at Turn 4. The first was A.J. Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett in the No. 4 Chevy; he was unhurt, but only managed three laps before the crash and did not return. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay also found the barriers at Turn 4, but did so late in the outing and was able to record 12 laps before the incident.
UP NEXT: Qualifying, 5:05 p.m. ET, Peacock (replay at 11:30 p.m., NBCSN)