7:22 PM — We’ve become accustomed to last second drama during Pole qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Scott Dixon made sure there was none of that today as he blitzed the field to win his fifth pole position by over a half a mile per hour.
By recording the second fastest qualifying time in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history, Dixon broke a tie for second place in all-time pole positions, now sitting alone with five and only one behind record holder Rick Mears.
In the Fast 12 session, the number of cars running for the pole were whittled down to six. Those who didn’t make the first cut included (in order): O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Grosjean, Sato, Power, and Johnson.
After a short intermission to let the cars cool down, the Fast 6 took to the track to take their final shot at the pole position. In the end, the front row will see Scott Dixon on pole with teammate Alex Palou in the middle and ECR’s Rinus Veekay making his second consecutive start from the outside. It is the first time since 2009 and 2010 that multiple drivers will start in the same front row positions in back to back years.
While I think the qualifying presentation was a good show for the fans watching on TV, I’m not totally convinced this is the best format going forward and definitely not convinced that the teams and drivers will lobby for it in future years. I do think it guarantees that the best drivers find their way to the front of the field rather than putting so much pressure on just a single, 16-turn run. But it’s questionable whether they would prefer the pressure of having a make-or-break single run or having to go through three runs to secure their final position. When asked about the format afterwards, none of the three front-row starters gave the format a ringing endorsement though (predictably) none necessarily trashed it either.
With that, I’m going to put a bow on the weekend and get on the road back home. I’ll be back with more great content this week and, of course, back again next week for the big race. Thanks for following along all weekend. I can’t wait to see how next week’s Indianapolis 500 plays out!!
3:42 PM — While the speeds were solid in the morning practice, I think most people were a bit surprised they weren’t a tad higher. The 90-minute session was paced by Scott Dixon, followed close behind by the ECR cars of Ed Carpenter and Rinus Veekay. Looking at the four-lap averages, however, put three Ganassi cars at the top with Dixon leading the way and Marcus Ericsson and Jimmie Johnson close behind.
2013 champion Tony Kanaan ran only eight laps in the session before called it quits with an electrical issue. The team tried replacing the steering wheel to no avail, and Kanaan tweeted later that the team has yet to find the gremlin. Whether the team is able to effect repairs and get into the qualifying line at 4:00 remains to be seen.
Otherwise, it has been a slow afternoon here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It feels like this qualifying format will perhaps produce some nice excitement for fans watching on TV at home, but this afternoon break feels like an eternity for those of us here at the track. Much like when the Last Row Shootout in 2021 had way too much sitting around with nothing happening on track, this lull in the action may need to be addressed when this year’s post-mortem is conducted. I personally would have liked to have seen practice from 10-11:00 and qualifying from noon to 1:00 or 1:00-3:00. Having the day wrap up sooner helps those people who come from out of town get back home at a more reasonable hour (though I readily admit the number of people coming from out of town is probably a fairly insignificant number). That’s just my feeling.
As the action has been in a lull, the crowd has actually settled into the grandstands fairly nicely. No, it’s not Pole Day 1993, but it’s a decent sized crowd. The areas behind the Pagoda and in Gasoline Alley have been pretty full since I arrived just before 10:00 this morning and are probably in line with the last several years. Perhaps nice weather this afternoon has prompted some locals to come enjoy their Sunday afternoons at the World’s Greatest Race Course.
I’ll be back with a short end-of-day wrap-up post after qualifying before I have to quickly get back on the road to Savoy tonight.
12:28 PM — Yesterday was the fastest day in 26 years at the #Indy500 when Rinus VeeKay clocked a four-lap speed at just under 234 mph, the third fastest qualifying average in the 106-year history of the 500. Today, there is a good chance they’ll go even faster. This should be a great day!!
This morning has dawned with, as expected, drastically different weather conditions. Gone are the 80º temperatures and stiff southern winds. In their stead are heavy overcast, temperatures in the low 60s, and decent – but not lighter – winds out of the west and slightly north. Other than the slight breeze, the conditions could not be more perfect for big speeds.
The first order of business today will be a 90-minute practice session for the 12 cars today vying for the pole position, starting at 12:30 PM EDT. After a two-hour hiatus, those 12 cars will have one chance to put themselves into the Top 6. After another short break and engine cooling period, the Top 6 will each have one final run to post the biggest speed and earn the honor and prestige of being the pole sitter for the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
One of the cool things at the track this morning – that has become an annual tradition – was the enlistment ceremony for a number of new recruits joining the US Armed Forces. The military has always had a major presence here at IMS going all the way back to the very beginning of the Speedway’s history and is an integral part of each race day. It is always a moving ceremony to see these young people committing themselves to defending our country and our freedoms. I certainly wish them all the very best.
The final pre-qualifying practice is about to get underway, and we’ll get a chance to really see what these guys can do when conditions are near perfect and the pole position is on the line. Be sure to join in on Peacock for the 90 minutes practice session and then Big Network NBC at 4:00 PM EDT for the Fast 12 and Fast 6.