Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin has a score to settle with Texas Motor Speedway, and he made a powerful start toward reaching that goal Saturday morning.

McLaughlin led the opening practice for the PPG 375 on the 1.5-mile oval, turning a top lap of 223.747 mph in the No. 3 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet in the one-hour session.

Speeds were high once the track was rubbered in, as all 28 drivers turned laps under sunshine and cool air temperatures in the mid-50s. Simon Pagenaud led the first practice last year at Texas at 223.087, as McLaughlin was nearly seven-tenths of a mph faster today in deluxe conditions.

SEE: Practice Results

“I was a bit bamboozled at the start of the run,” McLaughlin said. “She was a lot more slipperier than a pocketful of pudding on the outside of Turn 1. But we got through all that kerfuffle, and the XPEL Chevy feels really good. I think we’re in a really good spot.”

McLaughlin finished second at this race last year despite leading 186 of 248 laps, as Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden passed him exiting the final turn of the race for victory.

Pato O’Ward was second in practice today with a top speed of 223.518 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. This is a home race for Mexican O’Ward, who went to high school in San Antonio.

Alexander Rossi helped to put two Arrow McLaren machines in the top three, as he ended up third at 223.468 in the team’s No. 7 Chevrolet. Colton Herta was fourth at 223.318 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.

Devlin DeFrancesco was the second Andretti Autosport driver in the top five, fifth at 223.225 in the No. 29 Capstone Honda. The top five drivers today all were faster than Pagenaud’s top speed to lead the opening practice last year, another indicator of the peak conditions.

Up next is NTT P1 Award qualifying at 12:15 p.m. ET, live on Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE! and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves indicated after practice that drivers early in the qualifying order will have an edge due to cooler conditions.

DeFrancesco is the only driver among the top five on the time sheets this morning to have an early spot as he is scheduled to be the fourth driver on track in qualifying, which features an aggregate, two-lap format. McLaughlin will be the 18th of 28 drivers on track.

“It’s the same for everyone, and it’s just a car,” McLaughlin said. “Just get out there and hold it flat, and hopefully we don’t have too much understeer.”