15 Aug 2020
Marco Andretti rounded out the first day of qualifying for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 fastest of all on a day where Chevrolet runners struggled to make an impact.
After setting the fastest single lap at the track for 23 years on Friday, Andretti continued that fine form on Saturday, setting the fastest single lap again, as well as the fastest four-lap average speed of 231.351 mph to beat team mates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi to provisional pole.
James Hinchcliffe completed a top-four sweep for Andretti Autosport, ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon who moved into fifth on his third qualifying attempt. He later made a fourth attempt, setting the fastest single rap of the day as the clock wound down to zero, but aborted the run on his fourth lap meaning he maintained fifth.
Rinus VeeKay surprised to end the day sixth overall, and be the top Chevrolet runner by some margin – no other cars powered by to Bowtie ended the day in the top 12. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver was an early runner in the session and maintained provisional pole until Rossi – the 12th driver to take to the track – usurped him.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Alex Palou was another rookie to star, finishing the day seventh fastest behind VeeKay while Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato were the final two drivers to advance to Sunday’s pole position shootout in eighth and ninth respectively.
Colton Herta narrowly missed out on a Fast Nine spot, ending the day in tenth. The second-year driver moved from 11th to 10th on his second attempt, but he aborted his third and final try. That was enough to beat Marcus Ericsson and Spencer Pigot who took 11th and 12th respectively.
Team Penske, winners of the last two Indy 500s had a difficult day with reigning series champion Josef Newgarden the team’s top runner in 13th. Will Power meanwhile could only manage a run good enough for 22nd.
The 2018 Indy 500 winner has only once qualified outside the top-nine at the race, on his debut in 2008 when he lineup up 23rd.
He made his initial attempt after Newgarden, running with slightly less downforce than the American, but it wan’t enough to put him high up the order. Both drivers made a second attempt, but aborted their runs after a single lap after going slower.
Defending winner Simon Pagenaud – who also took the pole last year – could only manage 25th, while three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves ended the day way down in 28th place to record his worst qualifying result in 20 years at the Speedway.
Among the Penske drivers, fellow Chevrolet runner Ed Carpenter – a three-time polesitter at Indianapolis – ended the day 16th, moving up after initially qualifying down in 20th.
Carpenter ended to day behind the lowest Ganassi runner, Felix Rosenqvist, and the top McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward. In the second full-time McLaren entry, Oliver Askew qualified 21st, while Fernando Alonso could only manage 26th.
The disappointing result is a stark contrast to a year ago however, where he failed to even qualify for the race. Although starting far down the order, with just 33 entries in this year’s race, every qualifier was guaranteed a starting spot regardless of their performance on Saturday.
With positions 10 through to 33 now decided, the fastest nine runners will return on Sunday to battle for pole position in the Fast Nine shootout.