Saturday Indy 500 Qualifying

It wasn’t Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it sure felt like it.

Day 1 of qualifying for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 gave us a taste of the new qualifying format, and it sure seems like a keeper. With positions 10-30 being locked in after today, the rush was on to make sure you were safely in the field, and not having to battle it out for the final row on Sunday. Because of that, there were 73 total qualifying attempts made on Saturday, and no practice at all once qualifications began at 11 AM.

Spencer Pigot is on the provisional pole, with a four-lap average of 230.083 mph. Will Power was the only other driver to break the 230 mph barrier, as he and teammates Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden had three of the four fastest times. The other five drivers in the Fast Nine Shootout are Colton Herta, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter, Alexander Rossi, and Sebastien Bourdais. Ed Carpenter Racing got all three cars in the Fast Nine for the second straight year.

Saturday Indianapolis 500 Qualification Results

The six drivers who will battle it out for the final three positions on the last row are Fernando Alonso, James Hinchcliffe, Sage Karam, Patricio O’Ward, Max Chilton, and Kyle Kaiser. Two of these are full-time competitors. Four of these six drivers have had a major crash this week, and unfortunately one of them came earlier today.

During his initial qualifying attempt, Hinchcliffe’s Honda spun in Turn 2 and had major contact with the wall, resulting in his car leaving the ground. It was eerily similar to the crashes of Kaiser and O’Ward, but the car did manage to land as it was supposed to. The good news was Hinchcliffe was checked and released, and was cleared to drive. The bad news was that his Arrow SPM machine was destroyed. Luckily the team had a backup car prepared, and they were able to get it ready in just 2 1/2 hours. It wasn’t quick enough today, but they have another opportunity tomorrow.

The major headline is Alonso not having the speed in his McLaren Chevrolet to get locked into the field. He was knocked out of the 30th position on the final qualifying attempt of the day made by Graham Rahal. The high winds were causing havoc for every team, but it turned out that Alonso had a cut in one of his rear tires after his initial qualifying attempt.

Just missing out on the Fast Nine were Andretti teammates Marco Andretti and Conor Daly. They will start the race from Row 4 along with fellow fan favorite Helio Castroneves. Row 5 features Marcus Ericsson, Takuma Sato, and James Davison. A trio of popular drivers make up Row 6 with Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, and Scott Dixon. Row 7 belongs to Oriol Servia, Charlie Kimball, and JR Hildebrand. Row 8 is where Ryan Hunter-Reay will start the race, alongside Santino Ferrucci and Matheus Leist. The feel good stories are in Row 9, where Jack Harvey, Jordan King, and Ben Hanley will start. Row 10 belongs to Zach Veach, Felix Rosenqvist, and Pippa Mann.

Crews will now get to work on preparing the cars for Sunday qualifying. The Last Row Shootout is scheduled to run at 12:15 PM ET and the Fast Nine Shootout will follow. There will be a nearly three-hour practice session after that, running until 6 PM ET. The forecast for Sunday doesn’t look favorable though, with storms likely to roll through the area. If qualifying is rained out on Sunday, the first three rows will stay the same, meaning Pigot will start on pole. The last six cars will duke it out on Monday for the final three spots in the field.

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Driver Quotes

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “Our run was solid. The Shell V-Power car has been great the whole week. Chevy has done a phenomenal job for us as you can see, they have a lot of fast race cars here. Of course, I would have liked to have gone earlier. I think all of us would like to go out first or up front, but you have to work with what you’ve got. We had a fast run. Hopefully, it doesn’t rain tomorrow and we can have a Fast Nine Shootout.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES: “It was a solid run, but we didn’t have the speed we thought we would. The gears that we expected to cool down didn’t and we were surprised by that. We went back out and tried it again, but ran about the same lap times. That’s OK, we can focus on the race car now. We are solidly in the show and have a car that is starting in the first four rows, which is pretty good.”

MATHEUS LEIST: “The second run in qualifying was way better than the first run. We debriefed a little bit with the team and Eric (Cowdin, technical director) and Tony (Kanaan), and we just improved the car and managed to be way more consistent through the run. This puts us in a better, safer spot for qualifying. I think we’re going to be good, so I’m looking forward to the race now.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “I don’t know what the ultimate gap was, but it was obviously pretty close. Huge credit to everybody at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, it was a big effort from the whole team to get that car out there. Everybody from the (Nos.) 7, 77, 60 – they jumped in and helped. It’s a road course car, so it doesn’t have all the extra love on it that the oval cars, the superspeedway cars have, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. We came out, made some changes and found some speed, certainly. Obviously, it wasn’t quite enough today. Luckily, we’ve got a chance tomorrow. I’ve got a lot of faith in the crew, everybody at Arrow, everybody at Honda, they’ve done great today to rebound from a pretty bad situation. We just have to put our heads together, find a little speed on it tomorrow and come out and put this thing in the show.”

MARCUS ERICSSON: “It’s so much preparation, there’s so much buildup to it (qualifying). You practice all week to prepare for it, and then when you’re finally here, sitting in line, waiting… You’re out there on your own on the track, and for sure the pressure builds. I like that – I sort of thrive in those conditions, and I thought we did a good job in the Arrow car today.”

SCOTT DIXON: “The PNC Bank car was a bit loose, but not that loose (referencing James Hinchcliffe’s loose conditions where he crashed). I just felt like every time I turned in, it would kind of sit and that just scrubbed speed because the rear was coming around. So, we got a little pressed with the rear coming around. We tried to make the adjustments in the car as much as possible, but it was a pretty rough run for us. Generally, it’s just not the speed we are looking for. The conditions were super tough earlier in the day, and the track was at the hottest I’ve seen and the wind direction was probably not favorable. We got another crack at it, though, and picked up the speed a little. You always want to be up front and keep going for it, but that’s ultimately where we ended up and we’ll go back to working on things to make sure we have a fast and reliable race car.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST: “It was maybe not where we wanted to be with the NTT DATA car, but we got through the top 30 and that was the first goal of the day. We knew we weren’t fighting for pole or anything. It was just one step at a time. I kind of expected the last run – we took our time away because we knew we could do a better run. We expected to be a bit faster than what we were, maybe up in the 228s (mph). But it is what it is. At least we improved a bit and we are through, so we don’t have to worry about any bumping or anything. It was a good come back from the boys on Wednesday. We’re in the game.”

WILL POWER: “It was a good solid run. Obviously, it was just a little bit short there, especially if this is the only run we get. It would have been nice to get the P1 spot, but it’s great to have a fast Verizon 5G Chevrolet. We have a shot at the pole if it’s not rained out tomorrow. Pretty good and pretty consistent. That’s all you can ask for.”

TONY KANAAN: “We expected a little bit quicker, but I don’t know, I mean the car felt good. We had to guess a couple of the gears and the speed. It was a very atypical day – extremely windy and hot – which we haven’t had any of these (practice) days, so it was more of a guessing (game) than anything else. It is what it is, we’ve done it, and hopefully, we’ll have a good race car.”

GRAHAM RAHAL: “I just felt we underperformed today a little bit and our guys stayed calm. I can’t thank the United Rentals team enough for that. Allen (McDonald, race engineer) did a good job there. We had a tough decision to make after that second run. I think everyone felt that we could go a lot quicker. We just needed to go out and put it together. We thought the car didn’t reflect the pace; it was close to being ideal. It just takes a little tweak here and there and we got it right. Had the driver not screwed up on Turn 3 of the last lap there, I think we would’ve started 13th or 14th  I moved my weight jacker all the way to the right, and unfortunately, that’s not ideal and we had to lift. To start where we start, I’ll take it. It takes some balls, man (to withdraw the previous qualifying time). I think Rico (Ricardo Nault, team manager) and I both felt like the car was way more capable than where we were at on the chart. I knew the risk is you have to qualify tomorrow, the reward is that we could qualify. I knew that we were a lot better than where we were, and ultimately, fortunately, it worked out. Starting 17th was better than starting 28th.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “The SealMaster No. 18 was fantastic. The crew gave me a brilliant car, spot on. The Honda engine was great. We had a ton of speed. I just blew it. I made one procedural mistake and almost washed into the wall in Turn 1 and 2 on Lap 3. I didn’t hit the right button. That was all on me. I really thought we weren’t going to make the Fast Nine (Shootout). Fortunately, we did, so the consequences were not as bad as they could have been. I’m just really happy for the guys and our sponsors. So, let’s see where we end up tomorrow.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI: “It’s a tough four laps. The first lap was pretty good, the other ones we were just loose, the car was moving a lot more than I ever wanted it to in Turns 1 and 2. Those were the scariest laps I’ve done here all week. I was just kind of hanging on at that point. Obviously, I was a lot happier yesterday when we were actually quicker in the warmer weather, but I can’t complain. We have a really good race car, so unfortunately, we’re just going to have to do a lot of passing. I’m just happy that we qualified. I feel a lot more confident about the race.”

ED CARPENTER: (About if there were any team orders heading into the Fast Nine Shootout): “If there were team orders, I would have been first today. (Laughter). The team does a nice job and Chevrolet has done a great job, as well, but I think all three of our cars are fast. They’ve all been fast all week. It’s been hard — Ed (Jones) has been quick a lot of the time. We’ve all felt like we had a quick car. So happy that we’re all in the position that we are, in the top nine, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I know Spencer (Pigot) is hoping it rains. I think the rest of us are hoping it doesn’t rain, so we can try to beat him. No, there are no team orders.”

SPENCER PIGOT: “I feel great. Obviously, it’s great to be on top of the speed charts and also to have all three of our Ed Carpenter Racing cars in the Fast Nine (Shootout) for the second year in a row. Just a testament to all the work everyone does in the shop throughout the offseason and leading into this race. Chevrolet obviously has done a great job, as Ed (Carpenter) said, and we obviously have three really quick cars. So, if we have to qualify against each other for starting positions tomorrow, that’s cool. You know, we love driving these cars on the edge, and that’s what we get to do in qualifying at Indy. Obviously, if I had to pick one way or the other, it would be nice to just kind of relax and not have to go again and be on pole, but if we get to go again, I’ve got all the confidence in the world that we’re going to be able to challenge for the pole.”

SIMON PAGENAUD: “Honestly, that was a perfect run. The car was really phenomenal, as it has been all week. The conditions changed a little bit, but we extracted what we needed to out of the car. The wind was shifting quite a bit and it was tricky at times. Maybe we could have trimmed a little bit more. But overall, it’s great to have the Menards Chevrolet in the top three. I think we have a shot at the pole tomorrow.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL: “It’s a little bit bittersweet to be qualified for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 knowing that my two teammates are fighting for their spot in the race tomorrow, but I’m very happy with how the No. 23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet ran today. I think we could’ve ran even faster if we went out again, but once we knew we were in the show, we shifted all of our focus onto helping Pato (O’Ward) and Max (Chilton) make it into the top 30, and ultimately, the starting lineup for next weekend’s race. We want to do anything we can to help them out tomorrow, and once that’s done, we’ll continue our work on making our race car the best it can possibly be starting tomorrow afternoon during practice.”

SAGE KARAM: “We don’t really know what happened today. We ran the identical setup to JR’s (Hildebrand) car. I went right before him at the end and he went quick enough. My car just wouldn’t go. I was flat all four laps. It’s unfortunate because leading into today, we felt we had a really solid car under us for a qualifying run. We were confident coming into qualifying, but the car just wasn’t balanced in the first run. The track wasn’t good in the early afternoon. Our draw position didn’t help us. We tried all different types of trim levels today. We’ll look over all of the data tonight and get ready for Sunday’s qualifying. My rookie year in 2014, I came from 31st to ninth, and I know we have a good race car. We just need to get a fast car Sunday to get in the show. Not sure about Sunday’s weather, we have to make our one attempt the best ever for the DRR WIX Filters team.”

CONOR DALY: “It was a rollercoaster of a day and we only did two runs. It was wild. I am over the moon. I didn’t really know what to expect, but to be .1 mph off of the Fast Nine and starting on the fourth row in 11th is super cool. I think the team did an awesome job after our first run. We just missed the setup a little bit, but we made the perfect adjustments for the second run. We timed it perfectly too because the (qualifying) line started getting stacked up and we made the right call. Credit to Michael (Andretti, team owner/strategist), Andy (Listes, engineer), TZ  (John Tzouanakis, Assistant Strategist) and all of the U.S. Air Force guys. It is a lot of fun to be a part of this team and it’s only getting better every single day.”

ZACH VEACH: “I have a loss of words, honestly. I don’t understand what happened overnight. We went to bed yesterday with the eighth-fastest car, and we woke up this morning and we could not find that speed today no matter what we did. The first run was a little too free, so we figured that was some of the loss. The team made great changes to get it back to what it was yesterday, but then the speed wasn’t there again. I’m thankful that it didn’t end up worse, but starting 28th is not going to be a fun time. Now we just have to focus on making the Gainbridge car into the best race car that we can – it’s 2.5 miles with 33 cars, so you’re never going to have a clean track. Everyone is going to be fighting the same problems, we’re just going to be fighting them a little earlier. But, no matter how bad it is, I’m just thankful to say that I’m going to be starting in my third Indy 500.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI: “I am grateful that we are in the Fast Nine Shootout. It is a very good position to be in, as we watched what happened in the last hour. Hats off to the Andretti Autosport team and NAPA crew for securing that for us. We will go to work tonight and see if we can (find) that little bit of speed that we felt we lost today, and hopefully, be able to tomorrow, if the weather cooperates.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “Certainly disappointed with starting 22nd. I think if we had a chance at the end of the day (to make another attempt), I think we would have been somewhere around 14th or 15th. But, it is what it is. We can make up the spots in the race, it’s a long race. We will concentrate on the race car from here and do everything we can next Sunday to move the DHL car up through traffic.”

TAKUMA SATO: “Qualifying day is reasonably stressful. The pressure’s on, but usually, it’s a quite exciting day for the qualifying. It was a tough day. It was warm with gusty wind. Nobody had a perfect car, I don’t think. The morning runners from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. got a bit of a condition advantage, but then after that, we all struggled due to the temperature. I’m kind of half satisfied. The reason was we just couldn’t make the most of it. I ended up lifting on my third lap, which cost me 0.1 mile down on average. It didn’t make a position difference but in the end, you want to make the most of it, which was a little bit of a shame. But having said that, I think with the conditions and the circumstances, the team did a good job and we have decent speed. I’m glad to be in the show. We will just focus now for the next few days for making the best out of the race car.”

KYLE KAISER: 
“Obviously, it was a great effort by the team to get the No. 32 car out this morning, so we could run it and get a chance to feel it out before qualifying began. There are lots of things to sort through after the accident that we had on Fast Friday. Since the car was put together last minute, obviously it’s not going to be the same handling and speed as the other car, but we went into this knowing that. I cannot thank the team enough for getting us out there today. Overall, I am very proud of the effort by everyone at Juncos Racing. We gave it all we had today. They worked all night, most guys never went home to make sure we were out on track today. Tonight, we will reset, clear our minds and come out here tomorrow and give it everything we have.”

JAMES DAVISON: “I just have to put it all down to the Dale Coyne Racing with Byrd/Belardi team and Honda for the speed. All my crew guys put in a great team effort and it is great what we pulled off today. We exceeded our expectations. It’s tough when you’re a one-off Indy (500) entry, you have the odds stacked against you. You don’t have the chemistry, you don’t have the full season momentum, but that just felt really great and gratifying. It’s a full team effort here to make it into the race and I’m just really proud of my guys.”

PIPPA MANN: “I think the big thing for us is that the Clauson-Marshall Driven 2 Save Lives Chevrolet has actually been pretty good all week long. We felt we were going to slot in somewhere between 23rd and 26th-ish today, which happened, and then we kind of miscalculated how much better the track conditions were going to get at the end of the day. And by the time we realized how much better they were and how much quicker we’d have been able to run, there were too many cars in the line to pull our time to go. So, I literally had to sit there sweating it out, and all that was going through my head was not again, please not again, please, please not again.”

JORDAN KING: “Whatever percent I went quicker, it felt that much better. We were chased by a margin of the whole field separated by thousandths of a second. That was a good run. It was pretty consistent. I think my drop off was only half a mile an hour, which is probably the best out there. I think the outright speed isn’t quite where it was in the 27s, so it gave me some breathing room. The first run was so mismatched with a yellow flag, and then it was a bit of a fuffle to get ourselves back out, actually just go again and keep our cool. The team did a great job staying relaxed, getting the car ready and making those small adjustments. Now, we’ve got ourselves some breathing room.”

JR HILDEBRAND: “We knew we had the speed in the car from the other runs in qualifying. It was a matter of sticking it all together. Conditions were super tough today, especially if you had a late draw number. I was happy for a little bit of a cloud cover, and by my second lap, the whole track looked to be covered. I’m really happy for the Salesforce team and we’ll get back to the garage looking to do whatever we can do to get the No. 24 car in the race on Sunday. Today was stressful for the top 30. In the past at ECR (Ed Carpenter Racing), I was on the bubble of the top nine, but it was a different level of stress today. I’m happy for the whole team with a solid late run. We all knew we had the speed. But with these hard conditions, it was tough for all of the teams. In our first qual run today, the conditions with the wind were just awful. So, we went right back out and tried it again. I’m glad the conditions improved at the end because our Salesforce guys have been working hard to get the car right. I knew all week we had a good car. We were hoping for good conditions today because we felt we had a shot at the end of the top nine. But the heat (88 degrees) and the wind really affected the cars today. You saw that many of the top guys ran early. You saw us run big laps in the early stages of our three attempts today. But it wasn’t easy out there by any means. The stress in the 10 to 30 positions is tricky. There were a lot of cars in line for top 30, as well as top nine, who wanted to get out there when the conditions were better. Being on the top 30 bubble was much more stressful than I anticipated.”

JACK HARVEY: “The wind changed from what we were expecting, and I had too many moments coming out of Turn 2. I haven’t been that loose throughout practice, so coming into qualifications and having oversteer on the turn exit is not a great feeling. It wasn’t the run that I thought we were going to have. The first lap was good, but I couldn’t stay flat on the second which caused us to lose too much. We had more pace that we were not able to show. We picked up a lot of front grip out of nowhere and I had a very close save. So, it’s good to be in the race after a less than perfect day. We made it. We are in and we can still race from where we are starting from.”

ED JONES: “As Spencer (Pigot) said and Ed (Carpenter) said, it’s great to have all three cars up there showing speed the whole week. For sure, I don’t think we quite optimized today with the run, and I think if we get the possibility tomorrow where everyone runs at a similar time and conditions are very similar, I think it’ll be a different story. I’m kind of hoping for that. We know we have a fast car and just want to get another opportunity to show that and fight for the pole tomorrow.”

FERNANDO ALONSO: “It has been a difficult day, and it follows a difficult week. We were running quite well this morning when the conditions were not too bad, but unfortunately, we picked up a rear puncture and then we decided to wait until this afternoon to get back out on track when track conditions were slightly better. At the end of the day, we didn’t have the pace and the final time we posted wasn’t enough to be in the top 30, so we must try again tomorrow and we’ll need to execute the four laps as well as possible, clean and with no mistakes. It’s a difficult moment for the team, but we must remain calm and focused and I hope we can find enough to make the top three positions of the six tomorrow.”

ORIOL SERVIA: “Honestly, I couldn’t be impressed more with my engineers with how difficult the conditions are. It is really hot and windy. I did not adjust one thing on the MotoGator car in the four laps. That’s how good the car was. The car stayed very consistent. Overall, I’m very happy. The whole effort, the whole month has been really great, so I’m really looking forward to the 26th.”

BEN HANLEY: “Everyone has been pretty calm. Like I have said, we know we are new and we know we don’t have the experience as probably any other team out there, but we are a tight group. We work hard and really trust each other.” (About looking at all the adversity they’ve been through over the season): “Yeah, it has been difficult, but we have a great group of people. And one of the reasons we have made it is because of guys who aren’t here. It is a massive team involvement, and we all understand it, and we want the same result, which is to perform the best we can. That was a pretty good run, the car felt the best it has been all week. Maybe I took a little risk on the last lap. I saw the run was pretty consistent, and I really needed to nail that last lap to pull it together.”

COLTON HERTA: “I knew we could probably make the Fast Nine (Shootout) if we did it perfect. I didn’t think we were going to be fifth. I thought maybe seventh, eighth, ninth was more realistic. Kind of blew my mind. We trimmed it on that last run and just kind of went for it, and the car was even a little better than it was on my first run.”

MARCO ANDRETTI: “The car wasn’t bad today, we just needed to adapt the balance better to gain any more ground. The beauty of this place is that it seems to change by the hour sometimes, not by the day – so you have to really stay on top of it. I think pace-wise, if our potential is seventh or eighth, I’m not that bummed (to not be in the Fast Nine Shootout). You miss out on a couple points, but 10th is a really good starting spot for 500 miles. It was a heck of a show that INDYCAR put on with the new rules. Tomorrow should be an exciting day for the fans.”

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