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

Position Car Driver Team Engine
1 21 Rinus VeeKay Carpenter Chevrolet
2 5 Pato O’Ward McLaren SP Chevrolet
3 7 Felix Rosenqvist McLaren SP Chevrolet
4 10 Alex Palou Ganassi Honda
5 1 Tony Kanaan Ganassi Honda
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Ganassi Honda
7 33 Ed Carpenter Carpenter Chevrolet
8 8 Marcus Ericsson Ganassi Honda
9 28 Romain Grosjean Andretti Honda
10 9 Scott Dixon Ganassi Honda
11 12 Will Power Penske Chevrolet
12 51 Takuma Sato Coyne/RWR Honda
13 18 David Malukas Coyne/HMD Honda
14 2 Josef Newgarden Penske Chevrolet
15 23 Santino Ferrucci DRR Chevrolet
16 60 Simon Pagenaud Meyer Shank Honda
17 11 JR Hildebrand Foyt Chevrolet
18 20 Conor Daly Carpenter Chevrolet
19 77 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
20 27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Honda
21 15 Graham Rahal RLL Honda
22 24 Sage Karam DRR Chevrolet
23 98 Marco Andretti Andretti Chevrolet
24 29 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Honda
25 26 Colton Herta Andretti Honda
26 3 Scott McLaughlin Penske Chevrolet
27 06 Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Honda
28 14 Kyle Kirkwood Foyt Chevrolet
29 4 Dalton Kellett Foyt Chevrolet
30 6 Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren SP Chevrolet
31 30 Christian Lundgaard RLL Honda
32 45 Jack Harvey RLL Honda
33 25 Stefan Wilson DragonSpeed/Cusick Chevrolet

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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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