Continuing the pattern from Fast Friday, Andretti Autosport showed they have the best cars in qualifying trim around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team secured the four fastest average lap speeds on the day, and had four of the team’s six drivers advance to tomorrow’s pole qualifying session.
At the top of the charts was Marco Andretti, who also clocked the fastest time in yesterday’s practice session. The 33-year-old son of IndyCar legend Michael Andretti had an average speed across the four lap run of 231.351 MPH, and hopes to earn his first ever Indy 500 pole.
Every driver was allowed one four-lap qualifying attempt, with drivers going out early (as determined by a random draw) having an advantage due to the cooler temperatures. After all drivers had completed their runs, they could choose to make additional runs if they felt there was additional pace to be found.
The drivers that found themselves in the top nine positions at the end of the day will get a chance to fight for pole tomorrow in the Fast Nine shootout. The rest of the field has their positions from today locked in.
The advancing drivers include the four Andretti Autosport favorites Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, and previous Indy 500 winners Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.
They will be joined by the current points leader Scott Dixon and rookies Rinus VeeKay and Alex Palou. The last two to advance are the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato.
Team Penske, who earned pole for last year’s Indy 500, will have no representation tomorrow for the Fast Nine shootout. The team’s top run was set by reigning IndyCar series champion Josef Newgarden, but was only able to achieve the 13th-best time of the day.
VeeKay is the only driver in the top-12 to be powered by a Chevrolet engine. The manufacturer simply has not been competitive with the Hondas in the higher-boost configuration that is unique to Indy 500 qualifying.
For the first time in many years, everyone who was on track today is guaranteed a spot on the grid next week. Only 33 cars were on the entry list and will just fill out the available positions for the historic race.
That is good news for those teams that have been struggling, including the small teams of DragonSpeed and Carlin. They were assured a chance to race in the biggest event of the year before qualifying even started.
The Fast Nine shootout takes place tomorrow, and will set the final positions for the first three rows. The drivers will get a short practice session in the morning, followed by the fight for pole position starting at 13:15 EDT.