Scott Dixon was the first on track today, and that was all it took for the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner to take the top spot on the first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying. All three of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates also finished at the top of the timing sheets, dominating the fast nine that will decide the first three rows tomorrow. Will Power, a man known for his qualifying prowess, will shockingly compete for the last row tomorrow as Team Penske struggled with pace.
Dixon drew the first qualifying spot on Friday evening and set the bar early, with a four lap average of 231.827 mph untouchable for the entirety of the six hour session. The closest runner came twenty-eight cars later when Andretti Autosport‘s Colton Herta took second place from Dixon’s teammate Tony Kanaan, who finished third.
Ed Carpenter Racing put two cars in the fast nine, as hometown driver Ed Carpenter led his team in fourth place and Rinus Veekay followed right behind in fifth. Veekay’s first qualifying run was good enough for twelfth, but improved to fifth as one of few drivers to improve their lap times as the track got hotter throughout the day.
Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves put together a strong sixth place run for his part-time Meyer Shank Racing program while his teammate Jack Harvey, who was fastest in the morning practice session, also locked himself into the show and will start twentieth.
Alex Palou finished seventh in the session, but had a spectacular crash in the last third of the session, slamming the right side of his NTT Data Honda into the outside wall of turn two. Palou was released from the infield care center, and the team announced that they will luckily be able to fix the primary car for tomorrow.
2013 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was the eighth fastest car, punching the veteran into the fast nine, and Marcus Ericsson was the last driver in and the last Ganassi car heading into pole qualifying tomorrow.
The final minutes of the session were a serious battle for the last guaranteed spot in the race, won by A.J. Foyt Enterprises‘ Dalton Kellett over Power and Simona De Silvestro of Paretta Autosport. De Silvestro and Power both made runs before Kellett and couldn’t make it into the top thirty, but after Kellett’s run there were mere seconds left for De Silvestro to make the final run of the day and get one last shot. Unfortunately, De Silvestro had to lift in turn two on her first lap, and was unable to make it in. The women-forward Paretta Autosport will have to come back tomorrow for a shot at the last row.
Joining the two Penske-affiliated cars in that last row shootout will be Dreyer and Reinbold Racing‘s Sage Karam, A.J. Foyt‘s Charlie Kimball and Top Gun Racing‘s RC Enerson.
Positions ten through thirty were locked into next week’s today, and had some surprises throughout the grid. Alexander Rossi was the first car bumped from the fast nine and will start tenth, joined on row four by Ed Jones and Patricio O’Ward. At the top of row five, however, was Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing driver Pietro Fittipaldi, who put together a great four lap average that was initially enough to put him in the fast nine after not showing much pace during the week’s practice sessions leading up to qualifying.
While Power did not lock himself in to the 500, the rest of the Penske cars languished down the field at the track that Roger Penske now owns. The fastest of the team was rookie Scott McLaughlin, who will start seventeenth in his first Indy 500. Josef Newgarden found himself on the outside of row seven, starting twenty-first, while Simon Pagenaud will take the green flag from twenty-sixth.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, who took two spots on the podium of the 2020 Indy 500, also struggled to qualify up towards the front. Defending Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato qualified fifteenth, while Graham Rahal took eighteenth, and Indy-only entry Santino Ferrucci qualified twenty-third. Fortunately for all these struggling teams, there will be plenty of opportunities to make up spots when the race gets underway.
Fast nine and last row qualifying will take place on Sunday 23 May and will begin with the fight for the last row at 1300 EST / 1800 BST.
2021 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Day 1 Results
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||NAT||TEAM||FOUR LAP AVERAGE SPEED (MPH)|
|1||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||231.828|
|2||26||Colton Herta||USA||Andretti Autosport||231.648|
|3||48||Tony Kanaan||BRA||Chip Ganassi Racing||231.639|
|4||20||Ed Carpenter||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||231.616|
|5||21||Rinus VeeKay||NED||Ed Carpenter Racing||231.483|
|6||6||Helio Castroneves||BRA||Meyer Shank Racing||231.164|
|7||10||Alex Palou||ESP||Chip Ganassi Racing||231.145|
|8||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||231.139|
|9||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||231.104|
|10||27||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||231.046|
|11||18||Ed Jones||UAE||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan||231.044|
|12||5||Pato O’Ward||MEX||Arrow McLaren SP||230.864|
|13||51||Pietro Fittipaldi||BRA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||230.846|
|14||7||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Arrow McLaren SP||230.744|
|15||30||Takuma Sato||JPN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||230.708|
|16||29||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||230.563|
|17||3||Scott McLaughlin||NZL||Team Penske||230.557|
|18||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||230.521|
|19||47||Conor Daly||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||230.427|
|20||60||Jack Harvey||GBR||Meyer Shank Racing||230.191|
|21||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||230.071|
|22||1||JR Hildebrand||USA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||229.98|
|23||45||Santino Ferrucci||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||229.949|
|24||86||Juan Pablo Montoya||COL||Arrow McLaren SP||229.891|
|25||98||Marco Andretti||USA||Andretti Herta-Haupert w/Marco & Curb-Agajanian||229.872|
|26||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||229.778|
|27||14||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||229.744|
|28||25||Stefan Wilson||GBR||Andretti Autosport||229.714|
|30||4||Dalton Kellett||CAN||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||228.323|
|31||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||229.228|
|32||24||Sage Karam||USA||Dreyer & Reinbold||229.158|
|33||11||Charlie Kimball||USA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||228.401|
|34||16||Simona De Silvestro||SUI||Paretta Autosport||228.013|
|35||75||RC Enerson (R)||USA||Top Gun Racing||227.283|