Power, De Silvestro and Karam claim final places on Indy 500 grid

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The 11th and final row of the field for the 105th Indianapolis 500 has been set. 2008 Indy 500 winner Will Power, Simona de Silvestro, and Sage Karam have qualified for the race, while Charlie Kimball and rookie RC Enerson were not fast enough to make the field of 33 starters.

In the 75 minute Last Row qualifying session, the results were effectively settled on the first runs for each driver. Karam qualified with a four-lap average speed of 229.156mph, to secure his eighth consecutive Indy 500 start.

Then, Will Power took to the track, in circumstances Team Penske hadn’t experienced since being bumped from the field in 1995. On his final lap, Power brushed the wall exiting turn two with his right-rear wheel, but did not lift – and completed a run at an average speed of 228.876. Following him was De Silvestro, who was consistent on her first run, with an average speed of 228.353.

Track conditions began to degrade by the time Kimball and Enerson made their first runs, each averaging under 228 miles per hour. After 30 minutes without a car on track, Enerson and Kimball each withdrew their first runs to make wholesale car changes and make a second attempt. The cloud cover that rolled over Indianapolis Motor Speedway seemed as if it would provide the conditions both drivers needed to bump their way back in.

Will Power, Penske, IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2021
Power brushed the wall, but kept his foot in
Unfortunately, Enerson’s second run of 226.813 mph, and Kimball’s second run of 227.584 mph, were slower than their first attempts – and they were resigned to missing the Indianapolis 500. Kimball misses the race for the first time after successfully qualifying for 10 consecutive Indy 500s, while 24-year-old Enerson will not join fellow Indy 500 rookies Pietro Fittipaldi and Scott McLaughlin in the field.

For the three drivers who qualified, it was relief, and joy. De Silvestro gives female-forward upstart Paretta Autosport their first Indy 500 start in their first attempt to make the race, with technical support from Team Penske. Karam ensured that Dreyer and Reinbold Racing would make the race in every year that they entered since the team was established in 2000. And then of course, there’s the relief at Team Penske after Power secured his fourteenth consecutive Indianapolis 500 start.

If any of the drivers were to win next week’s Indianapolis 500 from the final row of the grid, they would make history – no driver has ever won from the 11th row. Scott Goodyear coming the closest in 1992, finishing second to Al Unser Jnr in a photo finish.

Final qualifiers for the Indianapolis 500:

Sage Karam, 229.156 mph
Will Power, 228.876 mph
Simona De Silvestro, 228.353 mph

Failed to qualify:

Charlie Kimball, 227.584 mph
RC Enerson, 226.813 mph

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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4 comments on “Power, De Silvestro and Karam claim final places on Indy 500 grid”

  1. Happy to see De Silvestro and the female forward team making it.

    1. Agreed. I’d like to see what they could do with better equipment. Simona’s chassis was last used two years ago and was a back marker chassis even then. While Indy is a spec series, not all chassis are created equal and they begin to show wear and tear differently.

  2. Interesting session to watch but the 75min format doesn’t seem as good as the one-shot last row shootout they ran in 2019, at least without some changes.

    Power’s car had damage from his run but couldn’t be repaired without forfeiting the time, so would have to go again had they done so. With it taking at least an hour to cool the engine down for another run as airblowers aren’t allowed, it meant 40mins of the session was filler and no track action, with only Enerson and Kimball having a 2nd run (since they had nothing to lose after run 1). tbh this format needs work – either make it one-shot, or allow the extra equipment to get the car turned-around for a 2nd run (and possibly change the rules to allow repairs without forfeiting your qualifying time).

  3. So happy for Simona, she is a class act. Would have been a great F1 driver for Sauber/Alfa Romeo

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