After Day 1 of qualifying on Saturday, Arrow McLaren probably wishes the 107th Indianapolis 500 were running Sunday and not May 28. In a flex on the rest of the field, not only did they place all four of their cars in the Fast 12 for Sunday's Day 2 of qualifying, but also two of their drivers topped the speed charts. And the faster of those two — Felix Rosenqvist — did it sort of without the intention of really trying.
"I don't know where that came from," Rosenqvist said after running a four-lap average of 233.947 that included two laps over 234 mph. "We were going out there to just find some things out for tomorrow. … That was pretty mind-blowing how we found so much speed."
Instead, Rosenqvist ends up in the top spot with teammate Alexander Rossi's 233.528 mph average the second quickest. Then you have the first of four Chip Ganassi Racing cars with Alex Palou's 233.396, and Rinus VeeKay at 233.395 for Ed Carpenter Racing. Scott Dixon was fifth quickest for CGR at 233.375, Tony Kanaan in another McLaren at 233.347, Takuma Sato for CGR at 233.322, Pato O'Ward for McLaren at 233.252, Santino Ferrucci for A.J. Foyt Enterprises at 233.147 and the final CGR car of Marcus Ericsson, the defending race champion, 10th quickest at 233.030.
Rookie Ben Pedersen for A.J. Foyt Enterprises was the good surprise of Day 1 qualifying, running an 11th-fastest average of 232.739 with the Team Penske car of Will Power in 12th at 233.030.
"I'm not sure we have the speed to challenge for pole," Power said. "It's crazy. It's almost coming down to a gust of wind here or there, it's so close."
As the day went on and cloud cover started cooling the track, the speeds got higher and the track got trickier. A strong wind blowing directly down the front straight was giving cars a boost to Turn 1 but then unsettled those cars as they exited 1 and entered the short chute into Turn 2. At the opposite end, the drivers faced a headwind that unsettled them entering Turn 3 but really made exiting Turn 4 and returning to the front straight tricky. Add in soft-compound tires that were degrading almost as fast as the cars were turning laps and it all added up to a crazy Day 1 of qualifying at the Brickyard.
Not to mention frustrating. Teams and drivers deeper in the field and not in the mix to fight in the Fast 12 were trying everything they could to at least make the field and not be facing a situation where they were now fighting for a spot on the final row — positions 31, 32 and 33. The bad surprise of the day would be Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, who were coming off a terrific race at the start of the month on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. That speed and confidence did not translate to the flat, four-corner oval as only one of their four cars locked in a spot — that of part-time driver Katherine Legge — after a last-chance run by Dale Coyne Racing's David Malukas managed to push him to 23rd on the grid to knock Christian Lundgaard out. Things were so desperate that Graham Rahal changed his car's entire set-up to match Legge's. It didn't matter. He, Lundgaard and teammate Jack Harvey will battle with rookie Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing to make the last row in the big show.
"It feels so good," Malukas said. "The run before this one, I knew it was there. I said, 'Please, let me go out for one more run,' and we did it."
The next bad surprise would be Andretti Autosport seemingly missing on the balance for their cars with Kyle Kirkwood their fastest qualifier at 15th.
As the clock wound down, even drivers who were locked into the field started rolling the dice. Team Penske's Josef Newgarden pulled his time from the chart and went out with less than 10 minutes left to improve his position and possibly make the Fast 12 but was only able to run the 17th-fastest average.
How to watch Day 2 Qualifying for the 107th Indianapolis 500
- Date: Sunday, March 21
- Location: 2.5-mile (4.02-kilometer), four-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Time: Sunday - 11.30 a.m. ET (Peacock), 2 p.m. ET (NBC)
- TV: NBC, Peacock
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
How it's done
Day 1 Qualifying is in the books, with spots 13-30 now locked in the field.
Sunday will feature two sessions for the top 12 cars, the first setting grid spots 7-12, the second settling the pole and remaining spots 2-6. The final row, grid spots 31-33, are squeezed between those two sessions.
Day 1 results
- Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren, 233.947 mph avg
- Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren, 233.528
- Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, 233.398
- Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing, 233.395
- Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing, 233.375
- Tony Canaan, Arrow McLaren, 233.347
- Takuma Sato, Chip Ganassi Racing, 233.322
- Pato O'Ward, Arrow McLaren, 233.252
- Santino Ferrucci, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, 233.147
- Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing, 233.030
- Benjamin Pedersen, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, 232.739
- Will Power, Team Penske, 232.719
- Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing, 232.689*
- Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske, 232.677*
- Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport, 232.662*
- Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing, 232.433*
- Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, 232.402*
- Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dreyer & Reinbold, 232.133*
- Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport, 231.954*
- Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing, 231.954*
- Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport, 231.951*
- Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing, 231.878*
- David Malukas, Dale Coyne Racing HMD, 231.769*
- Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport, 231.682*
- Stefan Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold, 231.648*
- Devlin DeFrancesco, Andretti Steinbrenner, 21.353*
- Agustin Canapino, Juncos Hollinger, 21.320*
- Callum, Ilott, Juncos Hollinger, 231.182*
- RC Enerson, Abel Motorsports, 231.129*
- Katherine Legge, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, 231.070*
- 31. Christian Lundgaard, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, 231.056#
- 32. Sting Ray Robb, Dale Coyne Racing, 230.740#
- 33. Jack Harvey, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, 230.098#
- 34. Graham Rahal, Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan, 229.999#
Bold - In Fast 12
*-Locked in the field
#-Last row bubble