Marco Andretti leads Honda Onslaught of Indianapolis Day One Qualifications

Photo credit: Walt Kuhn
Photo credit: Walt Kuhn

From Autoweek

Honda claimed all but one spot in Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout with Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti posting the quickest four lap average on Saturday qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

That means only one Chevrolet driver, Rinus Veekay of Ed Carpenter Racing, will compete for the pole on Sunday afternoon -- and no one from Team Penske.

Andretti Autosport drivers claimed the four fastest speeds with Marco Andretti posting his 231.351 mph average shortly after 1 p.m. when ambient temperatures hovered near 88 degrees.

"I don't think 'surprised' is the word," Andretti said. "I'm impressed. Shows the hard work they've been doing. It's a lot of credit to them really because horsepower means a lot around this place. That's always the first hurdle of I want to say May, but of August, is having speed. From there it's about making yourself comfortable and everything like that and circumstances."

Andretti hasn’t been a consistent contender, anywhere but much less Indianapolis, over the past two seasons but the 33-year-old has looked like the teenager that wowed as a rookie in 2006. He posted the quickest practice speed in 26 years on Fast Friday and backed it up with the fastest time in Saturday qualifying.

Andretti hasn’t won a race since Iowa in 2011.

"Yeah, I mean, does that weigh on me? Absolutely," Andretti said. "I'm a competitor. I don't like not being victorious. Yeah, I mean, that's not what I wake up in the morning and think about. Tomorrow I'm going to try to get the pole at the Indy 500."

Photo credit: Walt Kuhn
Photo credit: Walt Kuhn

And while Andretti might not win the pole on Sunday, his speed on Saturday carries with it his choice of first pit selection for next Sunday’s race.

"It's one day. I know how this place is, right? It's almost like starting over every day," Andretti said. "That's what we'll do. We'll start over tomorrow and we'll hopefully just continue the speed and continue to improve.

"Yeah, it's always good to be quick. Horsepower is a big thing around here, right? The good thing about today is the pit selection, we get to pick first. That actually makes a difference in the race, if you pick the right position."

Beyond Veekay, the Chevrolet teams just didn’t seem to have the power needed to crack the top-10 throughout the session.

Josef Newgarden was the second fastest Chevrolet and he posted the 13th fastest four lap average. Everyone else was 15th or worse.

Fernando Alonso, also in a Chevrolet for ARROW McLaren SP will start 26th. His Happy Hour crash on Thursday appears to have limited his pace on both Friday and Saturday and the best his No. 66 could muster was a 228.7

Fernando Alonso will start 26th after a disappointing run. His crash on Thursday appeared to have impacted his qualifying-spec speed, and he could only manage a 228.768 mph average. And remarkably, that starting spot is only one position worse than defending winner Simon Pagenaud.

The Fast Nine drivers will have just one attempt at a four-lap average, and they will go out in reverse order from their Saturday results. That session will begin a 1:15 and will air on NBC. The Fast Nine drivers will have a 30-minute practice session from 11:11:30.

Fast Nine Order:

Takuma Sato
Graham Rahal
Alex Palou
Rinus Veekay
Scott Dixon
James Hinchcliffe
Alexander Rossi
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Marco Andretti

Positions 10th through 33rd are locked in and that will be the order they take the green flag for The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

1. (98) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.6078 (231.351 mph)
2. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.6217 (231.330)
3. (27) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.6638 (231.268)
4. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.7126 (231.195)
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.7396 (231.155)
6. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Dallara-Chevy, 2:35.7674 (231.114)
7. (55) Alex Palou, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.8213 (231.034)
8. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.9641 (230.822)
9. (30) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.9844 (230.792)
10. (88) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 2:35.9962 (230.775)
11. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1374 (230.566)
12. (45) Spencer Pigot, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.1557 (230.539)
13. (1) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.3203 (230.296)
14. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.3491 (230.254)
15. (5) Pato O'Ward, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.3769 (230.213)
16. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.3781 (230.211)
17. (26) Zach Veach, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.5484 (229.961)
18. (47) Conor Daly, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.5525 (229.955)
19. (18) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.5736 (229.924)
20. (60) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.6161 (229.861)
21. (7) Oliver Askew, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.6852 (229.760)
22. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.7252 (229.701)
23. (14) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.0993 (229.154)
24. (41) Dalton Kellett, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.2880 (228.880)
25. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.3180 (228.836)
26. (66) Fernando Alonso, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.3646 (228.768)
27. (51) James Davison, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.3789 (228.747)
28. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.6368 (228.373)
29. (4) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.0625 (227.758)
30. (59) Max Chilton, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.3789 (227.303)
31. (24) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.5210 (227.099)
32. (67) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 2:39.0518 (226.341)
33. (81) Ben Hanley, Dallara-Chevy, 2:41.4948 (222.917)