Marco Andretti wins pole for 104th Indy 500

For the first time in 33 years, an Andretti will lead the Indianapolis 500 to the green flag.

Marco Andretti, grandson of the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti, topped the Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday to claim his first NTT Pole Award of 2020 and his family’s first Indy 500 pole since Mario Andretti won the pole in 1987 driving the #5 Lola Chevy. In the ’87 race Mario Andretti had a lap lead with 13 laps to go until his Chevy engine broke a valve spring and Al Unser Sr. lucked into his 4th Indy 500 win.

Andretti beat Scott Dixon by the slimmest of margins and was the only Andretti Autosport car on the front row after dominating Day 1 qualifying. Ryan Hunter-Reay was 5th, and James Hinchcliffe 6th in Andretti Autosport Hondas while Alexander Rossi was the slowest of the 9 drivers shooting for pole, not able to deliver when it really mattered.

Andretti collects his pole award and leads an all-Honda front row

Takuma Sato in the #30 Rahal Letterman Honda will start on the outside of the front row.

Rookie Rinus Veekay continues to impress and will line up on the inside of the 2nd row in the Ed Carpenter #21 Chevy and will start next to Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe.

Rookie Veekay will start 4th

“I was emotional,” Marco Andretti said. “It’s funny because I was screaming after the run, so I don’t have a voice. Everybody is thinking I’m crying, but I just can’t talk right now. I was emotional. We put so much into it. This place means so much to us as a family. We’ve just been through so many ups and downs at this place. Obviously, my cousin, John is riding with me, my grandfather from home. We know family is pulling for us. We live and breathe this sport, this race in particular.”

Andretti recorded a four-lap run of 2 minutes, 35.7985 seconds (231.068 mph) in the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda to beat Scott Dixon’s provisional pole run by 0.017 mph – the third-closest margin in the race’s history by speed. The nine drivers in the Fast Nine Shootout each had one attempt in sunny but blustery conditions, with a steady north wind of 12 mph. As the fastest qualifier Saturday, Andretti was the last driver on track during the Shootout.

“Lap 1 was good,” Andretti said. “Lap 2 started giving me the hint that (Lap) 3 and 4 were going to be tough,” Andretti said. “I knew it was going to be interesting. I knew it was going to be close, too, because I was watching the speeds, knew what (Dixon) ran. The luxury of going last is you know the benchmark. Luckily we were just on the better end of that.”

Dixon set the time to beat of 2:35.8098 (231.051 mph) as the fifth car to go out in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda but settled for his fifth front-row starting position at Indianapolis.

“I was definitely watching (Marco Andretti),” Dixon said. “Sometimes you don’t want to know the results, right? We knew (Andretti) were going to be strong. Right from the get-go, I knew Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) was going to be a good sort of benchmark, and the same with (Alexander) Rossi, because it looked like he was more trimmed out than the rest of them, a little more aggressive. Unfortunately, it was not quite enough.

“There’s so many things, I think, through the run that you could definitely equate maybe to going that little bit faster. I’m sure they had similar issues on their side.”

The pole position is the sixth of Marco Andretti’s INDYCAR career and the 42nd INDYCAR pole by cars owned by his father Michael Andretti. Michael Andretti never won a pole for the Indy 500 as a driver, but his team did in 2005 with Tony Kanaan.

“I was joking with Dad,” Marco Andretti said. “I’m like, ‘This is probably like my third legitimate shot as far as just outright pace in 15 years.’ When I lost the ‘500’ in 2006, you saw me mad because I knew that it is possible that 15 years later I’m talking to you guys and I haven’t won one yet. That’s why I was so mad.

“It’s a tough place. Last year I had the worst race of my career. Here we are, we can win it. We’re going to take it one race at a time. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is so competitive. Drivers and the teams, everybody is so close. It’s easy to go from last to first if you just find that little bit.”

Takuma Sato, the first car to run after sitting provisionally ninth Saturday, qualified third with a four-lap average of 230.725 mph in the No. 30 Panasonic/PeopleReady Honda, while rookie Rinus VeeKay – driving the lone Chevrolet in the Fast Nine –qualified fourth at 230.704 mph in the No. 21 SONAX entry, the best qualifying result for a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history.

Takuma Sato – 3rd quick – Image by Walt Kuhn

The pole position is the sixth of Marco Andretti’s INDYCAR career and the 42nd INDYCAR pole by cars owned by his father Michael Andretti. Michael Andretti never won a pole for the Indy 500 as a driver, but his team did in 2005 with Tony Kanaan.

“I was joking with Dad,” Marco Andretti said. “I’m like, ‘This is probably like my third legitimate shot as far as just outright pace in 15 years.’ When I lost the ‘500’ in 2006, you saw me mad because I knew that it is possible that 15 years later I’m talking to you guys and I haven’t won one yet. That’s why I was so mad.

“It’s a tough place. Last year I had the worst race of my career. Here we are, we can win it. We’re going to take it one race at a time. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is so competitive. Drivers and the teams, everybody is so close. It’s easy to go from last to first if you just find that little bit.”

Alex Palou 7th quick in his Dale Coyne Honda

Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified fifth at 230.648 in the No. 28 DHL Honda, with Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe sixth at 229.870 in the No. 29 Genesys Honda.

Rookie Alex Palou of Spain ended up a solid seventh at 229.676 in the No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda, with Graham Rahal eighth at 229.380 in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda. 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi rounded out the Fast Nine as the fourth Andretti Autosport car in the Shootout, with an average speed of 229.234 in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda.

Fast Nine Qualifying Results

Pos No Name QSPEED Diff QL1 QL2 QL3 QL4 Engine Team
1 98 Marco Andretti 231.068 –.—- 231.826 231.146 230.771 230.532 Honda Andretti Herta w/ Marco & Curb-Agajanian
2 9 Scott Dixon 231.051 0.0113 231.768 231.163 230.941 230.337 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
3 30 Takuma Sato 230.725 0.2315 230.805 230.916 230.659 230.520 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
4 21 Rinus VeeKay 230.704 0.2453 231.560 230.937 230.449 229.879 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
5 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 230.648 0.2833 231.267 230.637 230.351 230.340 Honda Andretti Autosport
6 29 James Hinchcliffe 229.870 0.8118 230.395 230.050 229.527 229.509 Honda Andretti Autosport
7 55 Alex Palou 229.676 0.9440 231.901 230.364 228.083 228.398 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh
8 15 Graham Rahal 229.380 1.1465 230.389 230.126 229.746 227.284 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
9 27 Alexander Rossi 229.234 1.2461 230.708 229.911 228.593 227.748 Honda Andretti Autosport

 

Full Lineup

Results of qualifying Sunday for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with rank, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and average speed of four-timed laps in parentheses:
1. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 02:35.7985 (231.068 mph)
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 02:35.8098 (231.051)
3. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 02:36.0300 (230.725)
4. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 02:36.0438 (230.704)
5. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 02:36.0818 (230.648)
6. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 02:36.6103 (229.870)
7. (55) Alex Palou, Honda, 02:36.7425 (229.676)
8. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 02:36.9450 (229.380)
9. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 02:37.0446 (229.234)
10. (88) Colton Herta, Honda, 02:35.9962 (230.775)
11. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 02:36.1374 (230.566)
12. (45) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 02:36.1557 (230.539)
13. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 02:36.3203 (230.296)
14. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 02:36.3491 (230.254)
15. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 02:36.3769 (230.213)
16. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 02:36.3781 (230.211)
17. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 02:36.5484 (229.961)
18. (47) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 02:36.5525 (229.955)
19. (18) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 02:36.5736 (229.924)
20. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 02:36.6161 (229.861)
21. (7) Oliver Askew, Chevrolet, 02:36.6852 (229.760)
22. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 02:36.7252 (229.701)
23. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 02:37.0993 (229.154)
24. (41) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 02:37.2880 (228.880)
25. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 02:37.3180 (228.836)
26. (66) Fernando Alonso, Chevrolet, 02:37.3646 (228.768)
27. (51) James Davison, Honda, 02:37.3789 (228.747)
28. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 02:37.6368 (228.373)
29. (4) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 02:38.0625 (227.758)
30. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 02:38.3789 (227.303)
31. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 02:38.5210 (227.099)
32. (67) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 02:39.0518 (226.341)
33. (81) Ben Hanley, Chevrolet, 02:41.4948 (222.917)

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