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Motorsport

Indy 500: VeeKay leads after first qualifying runs

Pato O’Ward made the initial run, at a time when the wind was still, the ambient temperature was 77degF, and the track temperature was 86. The Mexican ace’s Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet delivered an average of 233.037mph, but it was eclipsed by the very next runner, Rinus VeeKay. The Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevy driver, who started fourth and third for his first two Indy 500s, delivered an opening lap of 234.702, and although his fourth lap dropped to 232.655mph, his average was a stout 233.655. That was the third fastest qualifying run in Indy 500 history.

Both VeeKay and O’Ward survived Felix Rosenqvist’s run, as the Swede’s car hit the hard-limiter (12,000rpm) down the front straight on his third lap, hurting his speed. Romain Grosjean was the first Honda driver to hit the track, and he was the first driver changing gear between fifth and sixth, and he delivered an average of 232.201mph.

An even higher-profile Indy 500 rookie went next, namely Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s Jimmie Johnson. The NASCAR legend ran a 233.165 on his opener, but on Lap 2 he got worryingly high on the exit of Turn 2. But he kept his foot in it and delivered a 232.398 average.

Takuma Sato’s Dale Coyne Racing-Honda with RWR, which turned the fastest lap in race trim on Tuesday and Thursday (with the aid of a tow) and in qualifying trim/turbo boost on Fast Friday, had an unspectacular run to an average of 232.196mph, and his peak lap unusually came on Lap 2.

Marco Andretti, qualifying for his 17th Indy 500 and 250th IndyCar race, was surprised on his out lap to find Sato running slow in Turn 3 instead of the deceleration lane. Sato’s qualifying run was subsequently invalidated by Race Control.

Remarkably, Andretti’s effort would get more frustrating yet, when his engine shut off temporarily on Lap 2, dropping him to 219mph on that lap, before refiring, allowing him to get up to 225mph on his third lap and 229mph on his fourth.

Tony Kanaan became the fastest Honda driver yet and fourth overall with an average of 232.625mph, but another Honda appeared to let go in the back of Colton Herta’s Andretti Autosport entry while he was on his warm-up lap. He suspected it was a dropped cylinder.

Stefan Wilson’s DragonSpeed/Cusick Motorsports-Chevy didn’t make his run in his assigned slot because of a gearing issue that required maintenance, so four-time polesitter Scott Dixon went out 15th. With sun coming out and track temperature now up to 100deg, he produced a 232.151mph average, which looked disappointing when teammate Palou delivered a 232.774mph to go fourth so far.

Four-time and defending Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves had an alarming wobble at Turn 1 on his final lap, backed off, and dropped to last.

The track temp was up to 104 – 18 more than at the start of the session – when Scott McLaughlin became the first Team Penske-Chevrolet to run, and he lost 2.4mph over his run, the car looking very twitchy at Turn 2 as he delivered an average of 231.543mph.

Given the conditions, Ed Carpenter’s three 232s were strong, and he was clocking 241mph through the Turn 3 speedtrap, but a sudden wobble at Turn 3 on his final lap forced him to drop a gear and his final lap was only 231.299, dropping him to seventh so far.

2016 Indy winner Alexander Rossi had a messy Lap 3 – his fourth was faster – and finished outside the Top 12, so he would be hoping to run again, if the weather allowed. But his problems were put into context by a horrible run for Jack Harvey in the second Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda, who had to lift at all four corners on his second lap, and Sage Karam who had a big lift at Turn 3 on his third lap that dropped the Dreyer & Reinbold car down to 20th so far.

Josef Newgarden clocked 242mph down the back straight and his run started off very strong with a 233.209, but in 110degF track temp (82 ambient) he was alligator wrestling by Lap 3, and his fourth lap was down to 229.623.

Teammate Will Power, 2018 Indy winner, did a fine job to move into 11th using all the road at Turn 1 in the first two laps and at Turn 2 in his second two laps, and clocked a 231.842mph average, with only a 1.499mph dropoff from Lap 1 to Lap 4, compared with 3.586 for Newgarden.

Juan Pablo Montoya had to run last instead of ninth, due to his #6 AMSP entry failing the pre-qualifying tech check, and he described his car as horrible.

After the opening runs, cars ran again later in the day until rain brought an early end – but not before Sato pushed his way in to the Top 12. 

P

No

Name

AVERAGE

QLap1Speed

QLap2Speed

QLap3Speed

QLap4Speed

Engine

Team

1

21

Rinus VeeKay

233.655

234.702

233.921

233.353

232.655

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

2

5

Pato O'Ward

233.037

233.401

233.176

232.804

232.767

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

3

7

Felix Rosenqvist

232.775

233.512

233.131

231.931

232.532

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

4

10

Alex Palou

232.774

233.588

233.175

232.607

231.734

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

5

1

Tony Kanaan

232.625

233.180

232.680

232.362

232.280

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

6

48

Jimmie Johnson

232.398

233.135

232.428

232.134

231.897

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

7

33

Ed Carpenter

232.397

232.954

232.792

232.549

231.299

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

8

8

Marcus Ericsson

232.275

232.728

232.406

231.973

231.993

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

9

28

Romain Grosjean

232.201

232.596

232.374

231.955

231.882

Honda

Andretti Autosport

10

9

Scott Dixon

232.151

232.750

232.286

231.980

231.590

Honda

Chip Ganassi Racing

11

12

Will Power

231.842

232.485

232.236

231.665

230.986

Chevy

Team Penske

12

2

Josef Newgarden

231.580

233.209

232.333

231.184

229.623

Chevy

Team Penske

13

3

Scott McLaughlin

231.543

232.831

231.897

231.003

230.458

Chevy

Team Penske

14

23

Santino Ferrucci

231.508

232.239

231.729

231.329

230.741

Chevy

Dreyer & Reinbold

15

27

Alexander Rossi

231.341

232.680

232.013

230.271

230.419

Honda

Andretti Autosport

16

60

Simon Pagenaud

231.275

232.189

231.726

230.688

230.505

Honda

Meyer Shank Racing

17

18

David Malukas

231.233

231.601

231.294

231.077

230.962

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing with HMD

18

11

JR Hildebrand

231.112

231.601

231.118

230.926

230.807

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

19

20

Conor Daly

230.999

232.448

231.459

230.822

229.288

Chevy

Ed Carpenter Racing

20

15

Graham Rahal

230.766

231.083

230.643

230.678

230.662

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

21

29

Devlin DeFrancesco

230.326

231.511

231.228

230.737

227.865

Honda

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

22

77

Callum Ilott

230.212

230.995

230.966

230.607

228.302

Chevy

Juncos Hollinger Racing

23

24

Sage Karam

229.905

232.555

231.613

227.324

228.211

Chevy

Dreyer & Reinbold

24

14

Kyle Kirkwood

229.406

230.124

229.728

229.303

228.476

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

25

4

Dalton Kellett

228.916

229.673

229.403

228.538

228.058

Chevy

AJ Foyt Enterprises

26

6

Juan Pablo Montoya

228.622

229.478

229.381

227.897

227.741

Chevy

Arrow McLaren SP

27

30

Christian Lundgaard

227.053

227.597

228.507

226.594

225.537

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

28

45

Jack Harvey

226.851

230.401

225.447

228.032

223.640

Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

29

98

Marco Andretti

226.108

230.441

219.933

225.025

229.339

Honda

Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Marco & Curb

30

06

Helio Castroneves

225.482

230.607

230.299

229.180

212.863

Honda

Meyer Shank Racing

34

51

Takuma Sato

232.196

232.319

232.558

232.135

231.775

Honda

Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR