VeeKay leads rain-shortened first day of Indy 500 qualifying as speeds soar


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Rinus VeeKay led the 33 drivers after the first day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

The Ed Carpenter Racing driver is one of the 12 who advance to Sunday’s two-stage knockout qualifying to determine the pole-winner for the 106th running of the race.

The qualifying session that was affected by two lengthy delays for rainfall and lightning. VeeKay was the second driver out on track and put together a sensational four-lap run, clocked at an average speed of 233.655mph (376.031kph).

The first stoppage came at 2:12pm local time for rain. After over an hour and a half of waiting for the rain to stop and the track to dry, just ten minutes of running commenced before a second stoppage due to lightning strikes near Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

VeeKay’s run surpassed that of McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who was the first driver out on track when time trials began at 11:00am. O’Ward qualified at an average speed of 233.037mph, ahead of his team mate Felix Rosenqvist at 232.775mph.

Defending IndyCar Series champion and 2021 Indy 500 runner-up Alex Palou was fourth after a run at 232.774 mph, ahead of his team mate and 2013 Indy winner Tony Kanaan (fifth) and Jimmie Johnson (sixth). The seven-time NASCAR champion was the fastest of the Indy 500 rookies in the field.

Grosjean was the only Andretti driver to reach the Fast 12
Also making the cut for the Fast 12 Qualifying session tomorrow were three-time Indy pole winner Ed Carpenter, Marcus Ericsson, Indy rookie Romain Grosjean, 2008 winner Scott Dixon, 2018 winner Will Power and two-time winner Takuma Sato – the fastest man in practice leading up to the event.

But Sato had a hard road to make the cut: His first run was invalidated after he impeded Marco Andretti’s first qualifying attempt, then he brushed the wall at turn two on the penultimate lap of his second and final run.

The top 12 drivers will qualify again tomorrow, with the fastest six qualifiers advancing to a Fast Six shootout (similar to IndyCar’s road and street course events) to determine the pole winner. They will also earn championship points based on their qualifying position.

Positions 13 through 33 have been set and include more than a few notable names. Josef Newgarden was almost set to withdraw his time and requalify, but because the second stoppage came out before he took to the track, the two-time IndyCar champion kept his 14th place starting position.

Rookie Callum Ilott qualified 18th, one place ahead of 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi. Last week’s Indianapolis Grand Prix winner Colton Herta starts 25th after having to delay his run due to an engine problem.

Defending Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves will start 27th as he bids for a record fifth victory in the race.

All 33 entrants were guaranteed a starting position in the field of 33, including Stefan Wilson, who did not set a time after pulling out of the qualifying queue because of a gearbox and engine issue.

Putting VeeKay’s sensational run into perspective, it was the third-fastest qualifying run in the history of the Indianapolis 500, behind Arie Luyendyk and Scott Brayton’s 1996 qualifying efforts in what was then an open-chassis, open-tyre category using larger-displacement turbocharged engines.

The Fast 12 qualifying shot-out begins on Sunday at 21:00 BST (16:00 EDT).

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Indianapolis 500 qualifying results after day one

121Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
25Pato O’WardMcLaren SPChevrolet
37Felix RosenqvistMcLaren SPChevrolet
410Alex PalouGanassiHonda
51Tony KanaanGanassiHonda
648Jimmie JohnsonGanassiHonda
733Ed CarpenterCarpenterChevrolet
88Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
928Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
109Scott DixonGanassiHonda
1112Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
1251Takuma SatoCoyne/RWRHonda
1318David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
142Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
1523Santino FerrucciDRRChevrolet
1660Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
1711JR HildebrandFoytChevrolet
1820Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
1977Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2027Alexander RossiAndrettiHonda
2115Graham RahalRLLHonda
2224Sage KaramDRRChevrolet
2398Marco AndrettiAndrettiChevrolet
2429Devlin DeFrancescoAndretti SteinbrennerHonda
2526Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
263Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
2706Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2814Kyle KirkwoodFoytChevrolet
294Dalton KellettFoytChevrolet
306Juan Pablo MontoyaMcLaren SPChevrolet
3130Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
3245Jack HarveyRLLHonda
3325Stefan WilsonDragonSpeed/CusickChevrolet

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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 “VeeKay leads rain-shortened first day of Indy 500 qualifying as speeds soar”

  1. Weather conditions were just right for some super high speeds for the early qualifiers. The final qualifying rounds should be very interesting Sunday.

  2. Seeing the top 12 has me excited for tomorrow. I always have to go for Carpenter team but it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to see a McLaren on the pole.

  3. So disappointed with Herta’s engine failure! I hope his race pace will be fast so he can move up quickly.
    Cool to see old fox Kaanan at the front!
    Also, team Ganassi is a powerhouse.

    Lastly, you gotta love Veekay’s national Netherlands car livery :)

  4. Insane that O’Wards run was the 5th fastest in Indy qualifying history, yet he’s still only 2nd fastest in the session!
    Let’s hope today’s weather conditions are good enough to see someone smash the record.

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