Marco Andretti claims historic Indy 500 pole


16 Aug 2020

Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar Media

Marco Andretti has secured pole position for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500, beating Scott Dixon to the coveted top spot.

Andretti set the fastest single lap in the Fast Nine session, running at 231.826 on his first lap. That was enough of a buffer over Dixon, who was quicker on laps two and three, but another session best on the fourth lap consolidated Andretti’s pole run. Overall, his four-lap average speed run was 0.017 mph faster than the Ganassi driver.

Takuma Sato completed the front row, finishing third to claim the best Indy 500 qualifying result of his career.

The 2017 race winner was the first driver to take to the track and his consistent run kept him at the top of the board until Dixon ran midway through the session.

Rinus VeeKay, the only Chevrolet driver in the Fast Nine, will start fourth in his maiden Indy 500 start, alongside Andretti Autosport duo Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe.

The final Andretti Autosport runner, Alexander Rossi ended the session ninth, behind Alex Palou – the first driver to crack 240 mph on the front straight – and Graham Rahal.

Surprisingly, Andretti was the only Andretti Autosport driver to make it onto the front row, with the cooler, more windy conditions proving to be a leveler for the pole competitors after the team dominated the first part of qualifying on Saturday.

Running last after his table-topping performance on Saturday, Andretti was able to benefit from lessons learned from his team mates runs, and didn’t push hard on his outlap and also ran in a slightly higher downforce configuration to negate the higher winds.

Michael Andretti (L) never started the Indy 500 from pole – Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media

Andretti’s pole is his first at the Indy 500, his previous best start being third in 2013, and it comes 33 years after his grandfather Mario Andretti claimed pole in the race. His father, 1991 IndyCar champion Michael Andretti, never started on pole at Indy, his best start also being third in 1986.

No member of the Andretti family has managed to win the Indy 500 since Mario’s 1969 victory, leading to belief of an ‘Andretti Curse’. Michael and Marco came close on many occasions in the past, only for mechanical issues or poor luck robbing them of a chance of victory. For Michael, he has the most laps led of any driver who hasn’t won the famous race.

On his debut in 2006, Marco Andretti passed his father for the lead in the dying moments of the race and looked set for a historic victory until Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. passed him as they came to the finish line.

Mario’s son Jeff and nephew John also had to contend with their fair share of bad luck at the Indy 500 too, claiming best finishes of 15th and fifth respectively.