By: Spencer Neff
August 15, 2020
Day 1 of this weekend’s qualifying for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is in the books. After a busy day, here are some of the headlines before tomorrow’s Fast 9 shootout.
- Leading a 1-2-3-4 finish for his team on the day, Marco Andretti went out towards the later part of the day (28th) but was able to back up his top speed from Fast Friday. Tomorrow, the third-generation driver will look for his first front row start since 2013 (3rd). If he hangs on for pole, it will be the first pole for the Andretti family since Mario (1966-67 and 1987). Also, it will be Andretti Autosport’s second pole and first since 2005 (Tony Kanaan).
- Despite the Andretti domination, Scott Dixon showed he could easily take his fourth career “500” pole. After posting a four-lap average of 231.053 mph, Dixon set fastest lap of the day on each of his next two attempts. However, he aborted his third attempt as time expired. If Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing can maintain their speed during an exp[ectedly windy day, pole may be well within reach.
- Although Honda dominated the Top 9, sweeping the Top 5 and eight of nine spots in the run for pole, Saturday saw a few surprises. For the first time since 2013, two rookies qualified in the Top 9, including the field’s fastest Chevrolet-powered entry of Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay.
- For the first time since 2002, no Team Penske driver made the Top 9. Since the team’s debut at IMS in 1969, those are the only such instances (aside from the 1995 DNQs of Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi.). Fortunately for Josef Newgarden, there may be a bit of an omen. In 2002, Helio Castroneves was the team’s fastest qualifier (13th-same starting spot as Newgarden) and won the race.
- Despite the 8.434 miles per hour separating Andretti and 33rd-place Ben Hanley of DragonSpeed, the field average was 229.570 mph, second-fastest ever (2014). If teams find more speed for tomorrow, that 229.698 mph from six years ago could be in jeopardy.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Fast 9, here are my final predictions for the first three rows.
Row 1: Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi
Row 2: Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Rinus Veekay
Row 3: Graham Rahal, Alex Palou, Takuma Sato
Thank You for stopping by IndyCar1909. Leading up to Carb Day and the race, there will be some exciting features surrounding the race. Stay Tuned.
Header Image By Karl Zemlin/IMS Media