By Zorba Rose – Bloomingtonian Motorsports Correspondent
Additional reporting by Jeremy Hogan, who contributed to this article.
Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, May 20, 2023
The cars Sunday will be fast during the Top 12 shootout for pole position for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Driver’s qualified 85 times Saturday at the Brickyard, which is a new record.
Last year’s pole position – the fastest ever – was driven by Scott Dixon driving for Ganassi Racing. The 2022 four lap average was 234.046 mph. On Saturday three drivers had laps of 234 mph.
To recap the week, practice at indy was dominated by Ganassi Racing. Takuma Sato (11) posted the fastest lap time of the week during Fast Friday with a speed of 234.753 mph. Marco Andretti, Rinus Veekay and Marcus Ericsson also posted speeds above 234 mph. Scott Dixon was fast during practice, and he finished in the top three on Wednesday and Thursday.
Friday’s practice saw speeds not seen since 1996.
Saturday’s weather was perfect early and the track was fast. Later in the afternoon the wind picked up and the speeds slowed.
The top qualifier on Saturday was Felix Rosenqvist driving No. 6 with 233.947. The run, later in the afternoon, brought delight to the crowd, and audible cheering and jumping for joy from his teammates. Fellow Swede Marcus Ericsson came over to congratulate him.
The second spot was Alexander Rossi 233.528.
Third was Alex Palou, 233.398, and, fourth, Rinus VeeKay driving the No. 21 Chevy powered Ed Carpenter Racing with a four lap average of 233.395.
Dixon created some excitement during his second attempt. Dixon qualified 7th in his first run, but there was more speed to be found.
Dixon’s first lap of his second qualifying run was 233.803 mph. His second lap 233.743 mph. Third lap 233.283 mph. Those three had him in the top 3, but a change in wind slowed his fourth lap to 232.672 mph. Dixon’s four lap average was 233.375 which was good enough for fifth place.
“It’s fun when you’re heading in the right direction,” Dixon said. “Conditions are definitely a little bit rougher as the day goes on, maybe that’ll get a little bit better.”
It was then Takuma Sato’s turn. His first lap was 234.085. Top speed going into turn 1 was 242 mph. Second lap was 233.619 mph. His third lap was 232.810 mph. His tires began to go away, and his last lap was 232.779 mph. Sato’s four lap average was 233.322 which moved him up to seventh position.
“Obviously there’s more for tomorrow,” said Sato. “The second time run, we just did it. Was just nicer and cleaner than the first one.”
Later, Tony Kanaan put up a 233.347 time delivering himself from the back of the pack to the fast 12. He then wore a gold chain link necklace with the wings and wheels attached as he was interviewed on national television after the run.
Four time winner Helio Castroneves was unable to make up time during his later run and he qualified 20th.
“Certainly, the car is comfortable. In a decent way. Obviously, we don’t have the speed at 232 or 233,” said Castroneves, “It’s a different beast.”
One interesting story is what’s happening at Team Penske. They only had one car, the number 12 driven by Will Power qualified for the fast 12 shoot out for pole. The other Penske drivers qualified 13th, Scott McLaughlin, and 17th, Josef Newgarden.
Secondly, no Andretti Autosports cars qualified for the top 12 shootout. Kyle Kirkwood driving the number 27, qualified 15th.
The surprise of the day was the lack of speed from the Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars. Katherine Legge was their only qualifier securing the 30th position.
Her teammate Graham Rahal struggled with set-up while other cars were qualifying. The team was able to rebuild the car and make one last late run. But it was all for not, and speeds were too slow, 229.687 mph, 229.596 and 229.659. His run was aborted on the last lap.
“Not really what we want.” Rahal said. “We’re running the exact same car, the exact same downforce, exact same set up as Katherine and she’s two miles an hour faster. It’s just one of those times. We’ve all been there… It’s not a fun spot to be in.”
2023 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying results
Rank – Driver – Car, Team, Engine – Speed (miles per hour)
1st – Felix Rosenqvist – No. 6, Arrow McLaren, Chevrolet – 233.947
2nd – Alexander Rossi – No. 7, Arrow McLaren, Chevrolet – 233.528
3rd – Alex Palou – No. 10, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda – 233.398
4th – Rinus VeeKay – No. 21, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet – 233.395
5th – Scott Dixon – No. 9, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda – 233.375
6th – Tony Kanaan – No. 66, Arrow McLaren, Chevrolet – 233.347
7th – Takuma Sato – No. 11, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda – 233.322
8th – Pato O’Ward – No. 5, Arrow McLaren, Chevrolet – 233.252
9th – Santino Ferrucci – No. 14, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Chevrolet – 233.147
10th – Marcus Ericsson – No. 8, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda – 233.03
11th – Benjamin Pedersen – No. 55, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Chevrolet – 232.739
12th – Will Power – No. 12, Team Penske, Chevrolet – 232.719
13th – Ed Carpenter – No. 33, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet – 232.689
14th – Scott McLaughlin – No. 3, Team Penske, Chevrolet – 232.677
15th – Kyle Kirkwood – No. 27, Andretti Autosport, Honda – 232.662
17th – Josef Newgarden – No. 2, Team Penske, Chevrolet – 232.402
18th – Ryan Hunter-Reay – No. 23, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Chevrolet – 232.133
19th – Romain Grosjean – No. 28, Andretti Autosport, Honda – 231.997
20th – Helio Castroneves – No. 06, Meyer Shank Racing, Honda – 231.954
21st – Colton Herta – No. 26, Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, Honda – 231.951
22nd – Simon Pagenaud – No. 60, Meyer Shank Racing, Honda – 231.878
23rd – David Malukas – No. 18, Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports, Honda – 231.769
24th – Marco Andretti – No. 98, Andretti Herta Autosport w/Marco and Curb-Agajanian – 231.682
25th – Stefan Wilson – No. 24, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports, Chevrolet – 231.648
26th – Devlin DeFrancesco – No. 29, Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport, Honda – 231.353
27th – Agustin Canapino – No. 78, Juncos Hollinger Racing, Chevrolet – 231.32
28th – Callum Ilott – No. 77, Juncos Hollinger Racing, Chevrolet – 231.182
29th – R.C. Enerson – No. 50, Abel Motorsports, Chevrolet – 231.129
30th – Katherine Legge – No. 44 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda – 231.07