By: Spencer Neff
May 20, 2023
The last time the NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualified for an oval race, it was Felix Rosenqvist getting his second consecutive pole at Texas Motor Speedway.
During the latter half of Day 1 of Time Trials for the 107th Indianapolis 500, the driver of the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet turned in the best lap of the session, averaging 233.947 mph.
Rosenqvist was the only driver with multiple laps above the 234 miles per hour mark. Teammate Alexander Rossi was second after posting a 233.528 in his first attempt, seventh of the 34 to qualify.
Points leader and the winner of last week’s GMR Grand Prix Alex Palou led the way for Honda in third after an overnight engine change in his Chip Ganassi Racing entry. Aside from the provisional front row, Only Tony Kanaan (Arrow McLaren) and Takuma Sato were able to notch a lap in that range.
Making up the Fast 12 includes Rosenqvist, Rossi, Palou, Rinus VeeKay, Scott Dixon, Kanaan, Sato, Pato O’Ward (8th for Arrow McLaren), Santino Ferrucci, Marcus Ericsson, Benjamin Pedersen and Will Power.
In addition to all four cars from Arrow McLaren and Ganassi (Dixon and Ericsson joined Palou and Sato) making the “Fast 12” on Sunday, Ed Carpenter Racing (VeeKay) and both A.J. Foyt Racing cars (Ferrucci and Pedersen, the fastest rookie) did so.
Foyt is guaranteed their first Top 12 starting spots since 2018 (Kanaan and Matheus Leist). After qualifying 15th with Dreyer and Reinbold in 2022, Ferrucci is guaranteed his best starting position in his fifth “500”.
Dixon will be attempting to earn a sixth pole at this race, which would tie Rick Mears’ record. A pole to9morrow would also give the six-time INDYCAR Champion a record three consecutive poles. Honda will have four drivers in the Top 12 as they look for a fourth consecutive pole and win.
Chevrolet is looking for their first triumph at Indianapolis since Simon Pagenaud won from the pole in 2019 with Penske.
Still in search of his first “500” pole to add to his INDYCAR record of 58th, Power makes it two consecutive years as the only Team Penske driver in the Top 12.
Those dozen racers will battle Sunday afternoon as the first four rows of three are filled.
Missing out on the Top 12 were Ed Carpenter in 13th and Scott McLaughlin in a career-best 14th at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Andretti Autosport was led by Kyle Kirkwood in 15th.
Among other notables were 2022’s highest-finishing rookie David Malukas clawing his way back to 28th and guarantee his second “500” start for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports. Following a chassis swap on Friday night, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott slots in 28th for his sophomore year, one spot behind rookie teammate Agustin Canapino.
Rounding out the guaranteed spots in Row 10 are Abel Motorsports’ rookie RC Enerson, who makes his debut at the race following a 2021 DNQ (Did not Qualify). In her first attempt since 2013, Katherine Legge qualified 30th, the only Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver to qualify in the first 30 spots.
The current 30-car field average is 232.465, eclipsing last year’s record of 231.007. That speed would be faster than the best speed in 102 of the previous 106 qualifications for this race.
If Lundgaard, Harvey and Robb were added to the total, it would still be a record average of 232.275 mph. With higher temperatures expected for Sunday, it remains to be seen what the ultimate pole speed will be.
Lundgaard, Harvey, Robb and Rahal look to make 11th row
With the Top 30 spots guaranteed and 34 entries for this race, four drivers would need to wait until Sunday’s Last Row Shootout.
Following an intense day with a record 84 qualifying runs (most since 2019), those four drivers are rookie Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing along with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s full-time trip of Christian Lundgaard, Jack Harvey and Graham Rahal.
Rahal’s 228.526 mph run was the slowest four-lap average in the field.
Lundgaard and Harvey were the only drivers outside the Top 30 with qualifying attempts in excess of 230 mph. If they both qualify, it will be the second consecutive year they start on the last row. In 2022, they started 31st and 32nd.
All four drivers are full-time participants for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, adding more drama and intensity to Sunday’s Last Row Shootout.
At 11:30, both the fastest 12 and the four drivers competing for the Last Row Shootout will have separate our-long practice sessions to prepare for the day, concluding at 1:20.
Positions 7-12 will be locked in first at 2:00 p.m. ET, with the Fast Six advancing to compete for the NTT P1 Award.
From 4-5, the fastest three drivers will complete the field and fill out the 11th row of 3. The slowest driver will not qualify for the race.
At 5:00, the fastest six from the early afternoon session will battle for the pole.
Streaming is available via Peacock.com (Live on NBC from 4-6) with Timing and Scoring (including IndyCar Radio) from race control.indycar.com, the INDYCAR app powered by NTT DATA and SiriusXM Channel 160.
IndyCar1909 is on site at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will have continued updates for each on-track session. Check out our social media channels for even more content.
Header Image By Doug Matthews/INDYCAR