A scary spin in the dying stages of qualifying for the opening race of the IndyCar season scuppered any hope of scoring pole position for Scott McLaughlin.
The Team Penske pilot was looking to replicate his pole position effort of last year when he lost control at turn 10.
The No.3 spun at one of the fastest corners on the circuit, only narrowly missing the concrete wall.
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The three-time Supercars champ had just gone to the top of the pile in the final stage of qualifying. Having brought out the red flag, his time was scratched from the timesheets.
Replays showed the Kiwi scraped the wall on the outside of turn 10 moments before the spin.
“He is so lucky that there’s not more damage to that race car,” said commentator Townsend Bell.
It marked the second incident for McLaughlin at that turn, having had a similarly scary moment (below) in practice on Saturday (AEDT).
Top spot was taken out by ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean, who led Andretti Autosport teammate Colton Herta
McLaren’s Pato O’Ward qualified third alongside another ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Kyle Kirkwood, who crashed his Andretti Autosport car early in qualifying, will start fifth alongside McLaughlin in sixth.
“Overall, not a bad day for us in the Dex Imaging Chevy,” said McLaughlin.
“We beat our teammates in qualifying, which is your first job, and then we ended up P6 after our spin.
“I felt like we had a car for pole today, which was really disappointing that I made a mistake.
“I hit the wall at turn 10 on my first out lap and bent it and spun, so unfortunately, it caused a red, took us out of qualifying.
“We’ll be OK for tomorrow and we can definitely work from there.”
The IndyCar Series season-opener takes place on the streets of St Petersburg on Monday, with exclusive, live, ad-free coverage on Stan Sport from 4am.
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