Dixon Fastest on First Day of Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, Positions 10-30 Set

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(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar)

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

19Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing231.828
226Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport231.648
348Tony KanaanBRAChip Ganassi Racing231.639
420Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing231.616
521Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing231.483
66Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing231.164
710Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing231.145
828Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport231.139
98Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing231.104
1027Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport231.046
1118Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser Sullivan231.044
125Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP230.864
1351Pietro FittipaldiBRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing230.846
147Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP230.744
1530Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing230.708
1629James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport230.563
173Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske230.557
1815Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing230.521
1947Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing230.427
2060Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing230.191
212Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske230.071
221JR HildebrandUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises229.98
2345Santino FerrucciUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing229.949
2486Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLArrow McLaren SP229.891
2598Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta-Haupert w/Marco & Curb-Agajanian229.872
2622Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske229.778
2714Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises229.744
2825Stefan WilsonGBRAndretti Autosport229.714
2959Max ChiltonGBRCarlin229.417
304Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises228.323
3112Will PowerAUSTeam Penske229.228
3224Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold229.158
3311Charlie KimballUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises228.401
3416Simona De SilvestroSUIParetta Autosport228.013
3575RC Enerson (R)USATop Gun Racing227.283
(R) = Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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