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Barber IndyCar poleman McLaughlin admits "it's been a tough week"

The Team Penske IndyCar duo of Scott McLaughlin and Will Power began the march forward from a distracting week by going 1-2 in qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park.

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet, NTT P1 Award, Pole

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

The defending race winner, McLaughlin captured pole with a sensational run of 1m05.9490s around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course, just 0.097s ahead of team-mate Power.

It was the 300th IndyCar pole for Team Penske.

The front row lockout delivered a positive result for the team amid a tumultuous week that featured IndyCar officials handing out severe penalties.

Josef Newgarden, the third member of Team Penske, was stripped of his victory in St. Petersburg, along with McLaughlin’s podium finish, after the pair made illegal use of the overtake system in last month’s season-opener.

The breach was not found until last weekend’s round in Long Beach, and the disqualifications were handed out 45 days after the event this past Wednesday.

With the disqualification and a gearbox issue plaguing the opening pair of points-paying races to start the season, McLaughlin has been left looking up from 29th (last) in the championship standings with only five points.

Needless to say, he’s doing his best to press on.

Moving on from the scandal

“Look, just take it as it comes,” McLaughlin said. “Ultimately, we're always out there to win.

“Like I said before, it's been a tough week, but it is what it is. We've moved forward.

“We'll just keep starting our championship, I guess, a comeback we would like to say and do the best we can. The best thing we can do is continue getting poles and hope to get a win, but we know it's going to be hard.”

And it took some late heroics to pull off the pole-winning lap for McLaughlin.

“I knew on my first flyer I didn't quite nail that part of the track,” McLaughlin said of Turn 5, where he ran wide. “I had a little bit of a time left up in me.

“I knew if I could just nail the first part of the lap, then get to (Turn) 13, sort of send it through there. It was really just see what happens when I turned right into there.

“It worked. Yeah, it was all good.”

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

Power said his decision to take the extra lap on a set of softer alternate tyres in qualifying was worth the sacrifice to gain a front-row starting spot, with track position proving superior to any rubber disadvantage.

“Yeah, big-time,” Power said. “That was the problem last year.

“Even the year I won the championship, yeah, was just on the back foot from qualifying. I focused on that pretty hard this year. It makes things a lot easier.

“Obviously, it didn't last week. Like if I qualified eighth or seventh, it would have been nice because you're saving your green tires, starting on the hard compound.

“Literally that yellow last week fell just as bad as it could from that perspective.”

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