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Morning Warm-Up | Best Driver in the World



PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – The field is set for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day Weekend, and NASCAR has a new rivalry in the mid-pack ahead of the Coca-Cola 600!

Watch the video above for the latest episode of the Morning Warm-Up, which features an in-depth analysis of Indy 500 qualifying and a recap of the drama at the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race.

Bill Byrd Kia High-Speed Headlines

Penske Crushes Competition in Qualifying

Scott McLaughlin (234.220 MPH) set the fastest pole speed in Indianapolis 500 qualifying history, beating Alex Palou’s 2023 four-lap average by 0.003 MPH. Team Penske teammates Will Power (2nd – 233.917 MPH) and Josef Newgarden (3rd – 233.808 MPH) completed a front-row lockout for the team. This is only the second time in the 108-year history of the race that one team has locked out the front three starting positions. Team Penske was also the first team to complete this feat in 1988, with Rick Mears on pole, followed by Danny Sullivan and Al Unser. Rick Mears went on to win the 1988 Indy 500 in a yellow number 3 car. Scott McLaughlin starts first this year in the yellow number 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet. Tune in this Sunday to see if history may repeat itself!

VeeKay Resilient, Larson Unfazed on Go-Fast Day

Other notable stories in qualifying include Rinus VeeKay and Kyle Larson. VeeKay limped away from a nasty crash in his qualifying run on Saturday morning, leaving him on the outside looking in. After setting a mid-afternoon time with VeeKay narrowly making the field, the Ed Carpenter Racing team boldly withdrew their time and attempted to run again. The risk paid off and VeeKay jumped into the Firestone Fast-12 in the final run of the day, which led to a 7th-place starting position in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

For Kyle Larson, there’s no such thing as a learning curve. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion has quickly adjusted to the 230+ MPH speeds of a high-power, high-downforce IndyCar. The Arrow McLaren driver briefly took the top spot in qualifying during the Firestone Fast-12 on Sunday and lines up 5th for his first Indianapolis 500. With a four-lap average of 232.848 mph, Larson is the second-fastest qualifying rookie in Indianapolis 500 history.

Punches Thrown, No Love Lost in NASCAR

The NASCAR All-Star race at North Wilkesboro was rather procedural. Team Penske’s Joey Logano led 199 of 200 laps en route to a Sunday Sweep for the team in North America’s national racing series. For the second time in his career, Logano won the million-dollar prize that comes with the All-Star bragging rights – he previously won at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2016. Denny Hamlin fell seven-tenths of a second short of the win in second place, followed by Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney.

Perhaps the most dramatic part of the short-track parade happened on lap two, and then after the race. At the drop of the green flag for the 200-lap feature, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. shot the gap through the middle of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Busch ended up in the wall, although there was no contact before that happened. The following lap, Busch unloaded his front bumper on Stenhouse Jr., sending the 47 into the outside wall and ending his night early.

In an interview outside his hauler, Stenhouse Jr. told TV crews he would confront Kyle Busch after the race. Sure enough, when the 8 car returned to the garage area, Stenhouse Jr. was ready to go, arguing a few words with Busch before punches were thrown. We’ll see if this drama continues through more of this season.

Verstappen Cruises to Victory

Max Verstappen is a winner again, this time in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. It was his 59th career win and his 5th of the 2024 season. Verstappen narrowly beat out McLaren’s Lando Norris, who was coming fresh off a career-first win in Miami. The margin of victory was less than a second. Verstappen now leads the standings by 48 points over Charles Leclerc.

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