Motorsport: Scott McLaughlin outshines fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon in qualifying at Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Scott McLaughlin has outshone countryman Scott Dixon to qualify fifth for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Raced on the road course at the famed Indianapolis Motorspeedway, the Grand Prix is the traditional curtain-raiser for the Indy 500 later this month.

The two Kiwis were drawn in the same qualifying group of 12 drivers looking to advance to the second stage of the session.

McLaughlin finished third, but Dixon struggled with balance, and staggered home in seventh - good enough for 16th on the grid for Sunday's 314km race.

In the penultimate session, a late surge saw reigning Supercars champion McLaughlin sneak into the 'Fast Six' for the first time in his blossoming IndyCar career. 

With no fresh sets of qualifying tyres left, the 27-year-old Hamilton native finished fifth in the final shootout to earn his best starting spot this season.

Pole position went to Frenchman Romain Grosjean in just his third IndyCars start.

Grosjean - a 179 race F1 veteran - almost lost his life in a fiery crash in Bahrain late last year, with the 35-year-old admitting he "saw death coming" in the aftermath of the first lap wreck.

Speaking after his stunning run to pole, Grosjean said he was delighted to score his first front-row start

"To be competitive and prove to myself I can still compete is very awesome," Grosjean said.

"So happy to be here and to race for this team on this track is pretty cool for me." 

Reflecting on his fifth-place finish, McLaughlin was "stoked". 

"It was a goal this weekend to qualify in the top 10," he said.

"We've been close before this season, so really proud of the effort from the team.

"We just slowly chipped away at the car today and turned up with a great package for qualifying.

"This is an amazing feeling - to drive for the captain [Roger Penske] at this track. It's surreal driving here and with what's to come in the next few weeks - I can't wait.

"But full credit to Romain - I feel privileged to be in the rookie class alongside him. It's remarkable how quickly he's bounced back from that crash - awesome job."