Indy 500: Andretti leads team in Day 1 Qualifying

The third-generation Andretti star was all smiles Saturday. (Credit: Chris Owens / IndyCar Media)

The third-generation Andretti star was all smiles Saturday. (Credit: Chris Owens / IndyCar Media)

Indianapolis 500 qualifications begun Saturday determining the fastest nine cars and setting the field for positions 10-33. Marco Andretti and Honda dominated the day.

Recap

Marco Andretti and Andretti Autosport had a stranglehold on the field during Saturday’s qualification session from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Honda Performance, as a whole, had the upper hand on Chevrolet-powered teams the entirety of the day.

Andretti Acceleration

Michael Andretti’s Honda team ended the near 6-hour session with four of his cars holding the top nine positions. Michael’s son, Marco, led the day with a four-lap qualifying average speed of 231.351MPH around the 2.5-mile brickyard.

The speed didn’t stop there for the Andretti team. Ryan Hunter-Reay (231.330MPH), Alexander Rossi (231.268MPH), James Hinchcliffe (231.195MPH), and Colton Herta (230.792MPH) all qualified their Andretti machines inside the top ten.

Herta will start the 104th Indianapolis 500 in the tenth position with the other four contesting in Sunday’s Firestone Fast Nine Shootout (1 pm, NBC).

The other Andretti cars driven by Zach Veach (229.961MPH – 17th) and the satellite car of Jack Harvey fielded by Meyer Shank Racing (229.861MPH – 20th) recorded laps inside the top-twenty.

Honda Horsepower

Above all, eight of the nine who advance to Sunday’s Fast Nine had Honda-powered engines. The lone outlier being Ed Carpenter Racing’s (ECR) rookie driver Rinus VeeKay who posted the sixth fastest lap.

After that, Scott Dixon turned the fastest lap of the day with a 232.183MPH lap average. However, Dixon’s best laps of the day were posted on runs that didn’t improve his position.

Additionally, Dixon and the PNC Bank No. 9 had aimed at taking the provisional pole award being the last run of the day, but the Chip Ganassi team waved Dixon off, in order to preserve their starting spot for Sunday’s shootout.

In conclusion, 15 of the top 20 cars were posted by Honda-powered cars.

Chevrolet Concern

Without a doubt, the Chevrolet powered cars struggled Saturday.

Despite ECR and Team Penske having strong cars in race trim on Wednesday and Thursday, the entirety of the Chevrolet camp struggled on Fast Friday and in qualifications.

Penske’s best car in qualifying was reigning series champion Josef Newgarden who ended the day in 13th-place with an average speed of 230.296MPH.

The other Penske machines only managed 22nd (Will Power, 229.701MPH), 25th (Simon Pagenaud, 228.836MPH), and 28th (Helio Castroneves, 228.373MPH) qualifying positions.

Despite ECR’s VeeKay posting the sixth-best lap, team owner Ed Carpenter and the No. 47 of Conor Daly only resulted in 16th (230.211MPH) and 18th (229.955MPH), respectively.

Both ECR cars showed great speed in race trim during the first two opening days, however.

Fast Nine

Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Hinchcliffe, Dixon, VeeKay, rookie Alex Palou, Graham Rahal, and Takuma Sato make up Sunday’s Firestone Fast Nine drivers.

The teams will be given a half-hour session (11 am, NBC Sports Gold) prior to the Fast Nine shootout (12:30 pm, NBC Sports Gold; NBC joins in at 1 pm).

Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing (GCR) team used the final hours of Saturday in preparation for the Last Row Shootout, expecting the conditions to reflect those in the actual session on Sunday.

Last Row

The Chevrolet issues especially impacted the small Indy-only entrants.

The 11th row for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 comprises all Chevrolet engines. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam (227.099MPH) and J.R. Hildebrand (226.341MPH) will join DragonSpeed USA’s Ben Hanley (222.917MPH) on the final row of the grid.

Obviously, the lack of speed on Saturday has good news — there will be no bumping in this year’s running of the Indy 500, securing all 33 cars into the race.

Not to mention, the three cars who round out the field this year were comfortably safe during last year’s Saturday qualifying session.

Andretti rockets around the 2.5-mile brickyard Saturday. (Credit: Chris Owens / IndyCar Media)

Day 1 Qualifying Results

Pos.: Driver (No.) Team – Best 4 Lap MPH Average

Advance to Fast Nine Shootout

1: Marco Andretti (98) Andretti Herta Autosport – 231.351MPH

2: Ryan Hunter-Reay (28) Andretti Autosport – 231.330MPH

3: Alexander Rossi (27) Andretti Autosport – 231.268MPH

4: James Hinchcliffe (29) Andretti Autosport – 231.195MPH

5: Scott Dixon (9) PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing – 231.155MPH

6: Rinus VeeKay (21) Ed Carpenter Racing – 231.114MPH

7: Alex Palou [R](55) Dale Coyne w/ Team Goh – 231.034MPH

8: Graham Rahal (15) Rahal Letterman Lanigan – 230.822MPH

9: Takuma Sato (30) Rahal Letterman Lanigan – 230.792MPH

Locked Starting Positions for Indy 500 Grid

10: Colton Herta (88) Andretti Harding Steinbrenner – 230.775MPH

11: Marcus Ericsson (8) Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing – 230.566MPH

12: Spencer Pigot (45) RLL w/ Citrone-Buhl Autosport – 230.539MPH

13: Josef Newgarden (1) Team Penske – 230.296MPH

14: Felix Rosenqvist (10) NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing – 230.254MPH

15: Pato O’Ward [R](5) Arrow McLaren SP – 230.213MPH

16: Ed Carpenter (20) Ed Carpenter Racing – 230.211MPH

17: Zach Veach (26) Andretti Autosport – 229.961MPH

18: Conor Daly (47) Ed Carpenter Racing – 229.955MPH

19: Santino Ferrucci (18) Dale Coyne w/ Vasser-Sullivan – 229.924MPH

20: Jack Harvey (60) Meyer Shank Racing – 229.861MPH

21: Oliver Askew [R](7) Arrow McLaren SP – 229.760MPH

22: Will Power (12) Team Penske – 229.701MPH

23: Tony Kanaan (14) A.J. Foyt Enterprises – 229.154MPH

24: Dalton Kellett (41) A.J. Foyt Enterprises – 228.880MPH

25: Simon Pagenaud (22) Team Penske – 228.836MPH

26: Fernando Alonso (66) Arrow McLaren SP – 228.768MPH

27: James Davison (51) Dale Coyne w/ Ware, Byrd & Belardi – 228.747MPH

28: Helio Castroneves (3) Team Penske – 228.373MPH

29: Charlie Kimball (4) A.J. Foyt Enterprises – 227.758MPH

30: Max Chilton (59) Carlin – 227.303MPH

31: Sage Karam (24) Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – 227.099MPH

32: J.R. Hildebrand (67) Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – 226.341MPH

33: Ben Hanley (81) DragonSpeed USA – 222.917MPH

The official IndyCar report on today’s qualification session can be found below.

104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Day 1 Qualification Results (PDF).

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Adam Coon

At 17 years old and attending high school, I have spent my weekends and free time covering motorsports on my Instagram page since July 2016. From Upstate New York, I am a devoted racing fan always looking to meet more people who share the same love I do.

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