The first step to setting the starting lineup for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is complete. The day started off with a long delay, as rain showers covered the Speedway area until early morning. In the end, there was plenty of track time, and the Fast Nine Shootout for tomorrow has been set. The nine drivers that will compete for Pole position in the historic race are James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Townsend Bell, Josef Newgarden, Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Munoz, and Simon Pagenaud.
Andretti Autosport had all five of their drivers in the top 11, but both Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti were on the outside looking in when the gun went off to signal the end of qualifying. Aleshin exited pit lane just one second before the gun went off, and secured his spot in the top nine, bumping out Rossi. There were plenty of big names that missed out on the top nine though, including the reigning winner, Juan Montoya. None of the four Ganassi cars made it in either, as former winners Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan continue to struggle to find speed.
Saturday Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Results
The day got off to a sour start, as Rookie Max Chilton spun in Turn 2 just six minute into the first practice session. It was a hard hit that delivered significant damage to the car, but he was okay. Later in the afternoon, Pippa Mann also lost control of her machine in Turn 2. She did a good job of directing the car, and avoided major damage. It was later discovered that the rear wing end fence failed on her car. Dale Coyne’s team decided to pull their other three cars as a precautionary measure.
Hinchcliffe had the fastest four-lap average of the day, at 230.946 mph. “All the credit to the guys on the Arrow Electronics car; that thing is a rocket ship,” he said. “We even dialed the engine back on that last lap. Not being cocky, but we knew we were pretty safe in the fast nine. Being fastest doesn’t really mean anything or pay anything, but it’s certainly a nice cherry on top.” Sam Schmidt’s team has two of their three cars in the Fast Nine, and Oriol Servia was in until he withdrew his time in the last few minutes. Like Andretti Autosport, their Hondas appear to be very quick.
The same could not be said for the Hondas of Rahal Letterman Lanigan and AJ Foyt Racing. Neither Graham Rahal or Spencer Pigot made the top 20, and Foyt’s team has been struggling all month. Fortunately for them, they will still have a little more time to work on them before the field gets set tomorrow.
Tomorrow the starting lineup will be set, with positions 10-33 being determined from 2:45-4:45 PM. The Fast Nine Shootout to decide the first three rows will take place from 5:00-5:45 on Sunday. Each car will get one attempt during the shootout. ESPN3 will provide coverage from 2:30-4:00, and ABC will televise the ending from 4-6 PM. There will be another day of practice from 12:30-4 PM on Monday.
Buddy Lazier: “It’s nice to be back for the 500. I’m very proud to be here. We’re a small team, but we’ve been moving forward every day. On my first lap I was hard into the limiter, and by the end I’d worn the tires down towards getting a little loose. It really is man versus machine. If the car is 100 percent right it doesn’t take too much to get comfortable again, but this track always tests the driver. I came here to do a job that I enjoy doing. The Indy 500 is a very special piece of American sport. I think young people today are interested in telemetry and aerodynamics, and I think the future is very promising for Indy car racing. I am very proud to be participating in the 100th running.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was pretty good. I mean it was really good. What am I talking about? Huge credit to the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport guys. They’ve worked so hard on these race cars since back in February. We’ve got three quick ones. I mean, the No. 77 and the No. 7 were quick as well. After our first run, we didn’t quite maximize. I made some mistakes on my shifting pattern. I was kind of mad at myself about that. Kind of got in my own head a little bit. We made some changes. We knew everybody was going to go out again and try and improve, and we made a couple changes to the car, because, I mean, the Arrow Electronics car was not only fast but it held on for all four laps. The consistency was there. That was a big key today. It doesn’t mean much today; it’s bragging rights. It’s pay for the boys, because it validates all the effort they put into this race car. It gets us in the Fast Nine, obviously, which was what the big point today was and hopefully we can go out there tomorrow and do something similar.”
JR Hildebrand: “It was a bummer that our first run wasn’t five minutes earlier or something. When we went back and looked at all of the data it appeared as if that was pretty much the only difference between myself and Josef. He did a great job. He ran four great laps. The wind picked up so we were slower in one straightaway and were barely quick enough to catch back up to his speed on the other side. So that was kind of a bummer and we went back out and gave it another run this afternoon. It was kind of a similar situation. We just didn’t quite have it dialed in, Ed nor I. We’ll go back and look at everything. We’ll take another crack at it and hopefully end up somewhere between 10th and 15th tomorrow and we’ll start working on the race.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “I think everything was in seconds in the end. I just managed to go out on track and that was my only chance to get up there. You know, with team help I obviously used it for 100 percent. I want to congratulate the team, all the team with the results that we had. I think all the team is very strong and especially James’ results shows it. I think it’s a good official start of the weekend. And good official start of 500 for all team. Yeah, we start from there.”
Max Chilton: “I’m fine. A bit battered and bruised. Your first accident on an oval is never a great one. The timing is pretty bad, but that’s the issue with practice before qualifying. You just want to make sure the car is right. I felt like it was a little bit strong in the front but I don’t have the experience to know what’s too much. Now I know, I know for future reference. It was my fault. I was driving the thing, so that’s the way it goes. That was my first green flag lap. It felt good. But it felt too good, if you know what I mean. Now I know what’s too good. It went down to the line pretty quickly. I was cautious of the rear and before you have time to react, it had gone and you’re just a passenger from then on. Sorry for the guys. Hopefully, we can get out for the race.”
Scott Dixon: “It obviously wasn’t the result we wanted today for Team Target so we just have to keep working on things. The field is really close and there are some guys out there who really put some speed on the time sheets today. We’ll keep working hard and hopefully get things pointed in the right direction.”
Tony Kanaan: “Today was frustrating. We weren’t expecting to come right out of the gates and put up a big number for qualifying, but we were definitely hoping for some more speed than what we ended with. We just didn’t have the speed that we needed to get into the top nine. We’ll have to get back to work tonight and see what needs to change to at least qualify toward the front of that second group. I know how hard the NTT DataChip Ganassi Racing guys are working, so I hope we can make that happen tomorrow during qualifying.”
Will Power: “Yeah, it was just conditions. Honestly I didn’t change anything on the car and didn’t trim out any more. It was just a matter of picking the right time to go in that line and making sure that you made it, too, that you didn’t go too far back in the line. But yeah, the team picked it perfectly and made it in. So hopefully have a shot tomorrow. I think there’s very fast cars out there and it will be a really good show for the fans.”
Takuma Sato: “So pleased to be back here and have an opportunity to be in the 100th Running, and to be part of it is really happy. Having said that, as my teammate Alex probably explained to you, we’ve been struggling. To be honest, we had back and forth and difficult days, particularly this morning as we weren’t even able to run properly. There was a bit of discussion as to what we were going to do [in qualifying]. Obviously the weather change is really challenging for everyone but for us in particular, we found it really difficult. I was just so happy we put everything together for my qualifying laps. It wasn’t necessarily the happiest, but we put together a decent speed under the circumstance. Hopefully if there is an opportunity, we can go back out again in the afternoon. We need to look at the data, the whole story. Personally I’d love to have another attempt. My engineers think that way too. We need to analyze what we could have done, should have done but obviously the most important thing is to be under control because tomorrow will be the day to determine the grid position. But still, tomorrow will be a very short run, could be only one attempt, so to gather as much information as we could today is absolutely vital for the team.”
Graham Rahal: “That’s (qualifying time) not what we hoped for but the car has been giving me these sorts of signs the last few days. We’re going to continue to work hard here. There is no quit in these guys and they deserve better than this and we’re going to fight hard to get it. I think we have to give it another shot, if for no other reason than to try to improve the car. (On second qualifying run): “We went back out to try to learn. We went back out to try a different mechanical setup. I think it was better but obviously still slow. We have got to look at why this thing is not pulling; it’s just not pulling the gears it should easy. We’ve got a little work to do. But as I always say, and I really believe, we’ve got the best team out here. It’s a great group of people and they do a great job of building this car, so I see no reason the car shouldn’t be pretty quick.”
Spencer Pigot: “The most important day is next Sunday, but I think we can improve the car a little bit for tomorrow and jump up a couple of rows. But again, we are just focusing on the race, especially after the track time that we lost this week. We’re focused on just building a good, fast race car. The car felt pretty good. It’s pretty windy and gusty out here which can be difficult. The guys gave me a good car. They have worked really hard the last couple of days especially and I can’t thank them enough.”
Conor Daly: “It was a tough day. A little crazy at first after being pulled out of the line for precautionary measures after Pippa’s rear wing end fence failure. I wish we would have practiced this morning because the track changed so much today. In the end, we’re not in the Fast Nine, which I really thought that we had the potential to do but it is what it is. That said, I think that we can be pleased that we’re pretty fast. I wanted to give it another shot, because the car wasn’t that great on my first attempt but it was such a short time between the runs, that the engine got too hot and we may have lost a little bit of power there.”
Gabby Chaves: “On our first run we thought we had made an incorrect change, so we were still confident that for our second run we’d be able to nail it down and go back to the performance we had on Fast Friday. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, something is still a little off. We definitely have some time to check it out to try to be quick again. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow. I’m a little confused right now, but I’m always optimistic, we always have to be. We’ve had a very strong car all week, but it’s the first time something goes wrong so I’m confident the guys will figure it out and we can have our car back to how strong we’ve been.”
Ed Carpenter: “I’m glad we got through the day unscathed. Josef’s in a good position, I think he’s got a car to go for the pole tomorrow. Unfortunately the Fuzzy’s No. 20 car and the Preferred Fuzzy’s No. 6 car just aren’t up to speed right now. All of the cars are handling great. We’re happy with that. I’m looking forward to Monday practice and getting ready for the race, but we’ll see if we can go out tomorrow and move up from 14th and do our best as a team to see if we can win another pole with Josef. That car has front row potential.”
Josef Newgarden: “The main objective was to get into the Fast Nine; it didn’t really matter how quick we were we just needed to be in that group. Fortunately we get to go for the pole tomorrow and then try and get as many points as we can because qualifying has a good amount of points; almost like a race win. I think our main goal is the race. Getting into the Top Nine was a big achievement, I think we’ll take whatever we can tomorrow, but still going to try and go for it and get as high as possible.”
Carlos Munoz: “I lost a little bit on my first lap, it just wasn’t there. Today the conditions were very tough, after the rain and the wind. My last three laps were very fast and the goal today was to be in the top nine. I think we’ve had a very good United Fiber & Data Car all week and I am really happy we will have the opportunity to work for pole position tomorrow. I think we have a good chance to start the ‘500’ from first.”
Marco Andretti: “On my first run, I knew during the first lap that I was in trouble. The rear (of the car) started to go on Lap 1 – man, that was a miserable run. We were lucky to not be in the wall on that one. We went back out and it was a time game. We fell on the short side of timing and got bumped at the end. It’s not the day I was looking for, but this race can be won from outside the top nine and that’s now what our sights are on.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “We had the fastest car on Wednesday – which was great, but we had some troubles toward the end of the week so today we’ve just been getting up to speed. Our first run we just didn’t have the balance, but our last run was great. I really have to give credit to the whole No. 28 DHL Honda team – these guys, when I needed them they were there with the right settings, the car was great. I also really want to thank Honda for really pushing it here. They’re absolutely hanging it all on the edges as we are (the drivers). It’s making for a great show out there. Hopefully tomorrow we come away with the pole.”
Townsend Bell: “Today was pretty edgy. The first lap was good, the second lap was a little harder. The third lap I made a bit of a bobble in Turn 1 and then tried to make up for it on the fourth lap. But the California Pizza Kitchen / Robert Graham car has been awesome and the Honda power is terrific. I can’t complain to be contending for the pole tomorrow. It’s fun to come back to Indy and have that opportunity.”
Alex Tagliani: “It’s disappointing to be where we are. We’re going to try something now before the end of the day to give us a direction and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to salvage a better performance because (the goal) at the end of the day today was to be in the top nine. And if we realize we can’t be, tomorrow is going to be a different day and our mission will be to try to be tenth.”
Jack Hawksworth: “The car wasn’t very fast. The car can definitely get faster. I think the No. 14 car had the right idea on set up. I wish we could put what they had on theirs onto mine and see where it gets us. We’ve been struggling all week. By struggling I mean that we really didn’t start until Thursday. We’ve been on the back foot so far this week. We’ve struggled a little bit the past few days, but it seems Takuma (Sato) found something, so we’ll sit down with him and figure out what he’s doing.”
Charlie Kimball: “I’m definitely disappointed with our qualifying run. We’ve been fairly strong all week and we just couldn’t get it done out there today. We obviously didn’t make it into the top nine, but we’ll get our chance tomorrow to put the No. 42 Tresiba® Chevrolet into a better starting position for the race next weekend.”
Matt Brabham: “It is a wonderful feeling to say that I’ve been able to qualify for the race – it is one of those special moments in life. We’re here and I’ve made it and I’m going to be racing in the Indianapolis 500. How cool is that? I was definitely nervous before going out there, I wanted to get my four laps in very cleanly and not mess it up and ensure that PIRTEK Team Murray made the race. Once I got in the car and got through the first lap, I felt more comfortable heading into the second lap and it came together from there, I got four solid laps in. It’s a pretty special thing to be the third generation of Brabham to have a start in this race and to be only the third family to do that in 100 years is something that I’m very honored to be in that situation and to be part of such a great family that is the Brabhams and this place is just steeped in history.”
Pippa Mann: “That was a massively tough break with the failure of the rear wing end fence on my qualifying run. I’m just really glad that I was able to have quick hands, and with some help from Lady Luck we were able to minimize the damage to the car. The boys are working away in the garage. We’ve had a great car all week. The engine wasn’t harmed, the gearbox wasn’t harmed, it’s mainly bolt on stuff so we’ll put it back together and we’ll go run strongly tomorrow.”
Alexander Rossi: “It’s disappointing. We spent the entire day inside the Fast Nine to get bumped out with just a few seconds left in qualifying. We thought we were safe, it’s just a shame we won’t be competing for pole tomorrow. I know we have one of the best cars on the track and we could’ve seen the NAPA Auto Parts/Curb car on the front row for the 100th Running. We will just have to make sure we end the day in tenth tomorrow.”