Team Penske excels on the opening day of Indy 500 qualifying, while Ganassi Racing and Ericsson miss out on the pole position

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Marcus Ericsson waits during Indianapolis 500 race

Team Penske secured the top three spots in the Indianapolis 500 qualifying session on Saturday, led by Will Power, giving the team a strong chance to claim pole position for the iconic race.

Kyle Larson also had a successful qualifying run, earning a spot in the Fast 12 and joining the Penske drivers in the battle for pole position on Sunday.

Larson’s qualification for the Indy 500 marks his debut in the event, and he becomes the fifth driver to attempt both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. He might use the pole run as preparation for NASCAR’s All-Star race later on Sunday.

In addition to Larson, drivers from various teams like Arrow McLaren, Ed Carpenter Racing, Meyer Shank Racing, Andretti Global, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, and A.J. Foyt Racing made it to the pole shootout, showcasing the diversity of teams in the Fast 12.

Despite several Chevy drivers making it to the top 12, both Chevrolet and Honda faced engine issues during qualifying. Chip Ganassi Racing, a Honda-powered team, struggled with speed, with their highest qualifier, Alex Palou, securing the 14th position.

Will Power goes into his car

Palou, like his teammate Scott Dixon, had to change his engine before qualifying, and there were similar worries about Ganassi driver Kyffiin Simpson’s engine.

While Palou waited for another chance in the Fast 12, Rinus VeeKay from Ed Carpenter Racing bounced back from a crash earlier in the day to grab the 11th spot just before qualifying ended at 6 p.m. local time.

Graham Rahal was the last driver to make a qualifying attempt, hoping to secure a spot in the top 30 and qualify for the Indy 500. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do it, placing him in the bottom four among the 34 cars. These four drivers will compete for the last three spots on Sunday.

Among those vying for these final positions are Marcus Ericsson, the 2022 winner who finished second last year. He had a crash on Thursday and was very frustrated with his performance on Saturday. “This place has its ups and downs,” Ericsson said. “I put myself in this position with my crash. It’s tough, very tough.”

Ericsson will compete against Katherine Legge, the only woman in the field, as well as Rahal and Nolan Siegel for the last spots. Siegel had a scary crash in practice on Friday and has been struggling to recover since then.

Rahal missed out on qualifying for the race last year. He got his chance when Stefan Wilson got injured in a crash during practice, and Rahal was chosen as the replacement driver.

Scott McLaughlin sits in the pitlane

“I believe all winter the guys have put in a lot of effort, and when you’re working in the garage, you don’t always see the immediate results, you just keep working,” Rahal explained. “These guys really worked hard to get ready for Indy. When a car doesn’t perform well, it’s just tough.

When you have a car like those in the front rows, it’s much easier. But when you don’t, it’s not as smooth.” Meanwhile, the Penske trio dominated Saturday with their early runs.

Power clocked a lap at 233.758 mph to secure the top qualifying spot for Saturday and set himself up for his first Indy 500 pole. Power holds the record for the most pole positions in IndyCar history with 70, but he’s never claimed pole at the prestigious Indy 500.

“It’s a satisfying achievement, a very satisfying one,” Power expressed. “It doesn’t guarantee anything for the race, but it would be a great accomplishment for me personally because we’ve been close so many times.”

Power was followed by his teammates Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden, the defending race champion. However, both have been involved in a Team Penske controversy since the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida.

IndyCar discovered about six weeks after Newgarden’s win in March that he and McLaughlin had accessed an unauthorized boost of horsepower, which was against the rules.

Kyle Larson talks with Santino Ferrucci

Both of their results were invalidated, and all three Penske drivers received a $25,000 fine — even though Power didn’t use the manipulated software. Additionally, four team members, including Team Penske president Tim Cindric, were suspended by team owner Roger Penske.

Cindric, who is also Newgarden’s race strategist and is highly regarded in motorsports, said that even without him, the Penske team has been preparing for a long time to try to secure Roger Penske’s 20th Indy 500 victory, extending his record.

“I thought we were this prepared the last two to three years,” Newgarden stated. “I felt confident the last multiple years. The effort this past offseason has been the same as we’ve done every year. We’ve looked at everything, didn’t yield what we needed, we looked at everything again. Still didn’t yield it.

“We’ve been working hard on this process, and I think there were certainly things probably we were missing, and we worked so hard on everything else, it just elevated the program. I don’t think there’s any guarantees you’re going to see a Penske car on pole this weekend. I don’t know how you can say that.”


By Michael Smith

Hi. Hailing from Manila, I am an avid consumer of anime, gaming, football and professional wrestling. You can mostly find me either writing articles, binging shows or engaged in an engrossing discussion about the said interests.

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