Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Report - Round 2
INDIANAPOLIS (May 21, 2023) -- What a difference a day makes! Santino Ferrucci drove the No. 14 Homes For Our Troops Chevrolet to its best start in the Indianapolis 500 in the past 20 years and will start fourth, inside the second row.
Driving the No. 55 Sexton Properties Chevrolet, fastest rookie Benjamin Pedersen will start 11th, in the middle of row 4. When Foyt qualified as the fastest rookie in 1958, he started 12th.
Qualifying of the Fast 12 was preceded by warmups this morning where both Ferrucci and Pedersen were among the fastest of the 12 drivers. When it came to qualifying to determine positions from 12 through seven, Pedersen rolled off second and outqualified Will Power by posting a 232.671mph speed average.
"We had a lot of pace obviously in the morning in practice but nevertheless, it's super good to be starting 11th," Pedersen said. "I just kind of feel like we missed a little something for qualifying with the pace we had in practice earlier. Overall, to start p 11 is a great spot and huge results for the whole team. So, I'm really looking forward to the race."
For Pedersen, the strong performance by the team was not surprising.
"I had a very good feeling because of our Texas performance with a non-Speedway car," Pedersen revealed. "And I knew how much time and effort had gone into the Speedway cars. So as soon as we got to the track here, after the GMR Grand Prix, I could tell we were very fast. So yes, I was expecting it and then it kind of became a reality very quickly."
There was jubilation amongst the team after Ferrucci posted the fastest four-lap average (233.911mph) in the Fast 12 round and wasn't pipped until the final qualifier Felix Rosenqvist posted a faster speed average (234.081mph).
Crew chief Didier Francesia congratulates Ferrucci after transferring to the Firestone Fast Six.
Going into the final round with the second fastest speed of the day created quite a bit of speculation about winning the pole based on the team's morning practice session where he and Pedersen had two of the fastest non-tow four-lap average speeds.
However, Ferrucci and team didn't quite pull it off.
"I think our Firestone Fast Six run was unfortunately our worst run today," said Ferrucci whose final four-lap average speed was 233.661mph. "I just made a couple of mistakes and I don't think we trimmed enough. We were on the conservative side of things but that was the whole point. I didn't want to go trim it to minus seven (rear wing angle) and then hope and pray that it sticks just to be on the front row. You know, I race cars definitely better (than qualify them) and I think we're going to show that come race day. I'm so proud of this whole team and everything we've accomplished up to this point. You know, it's shown that we're the underdog that can definitely win this race."
Team owner A.J. Foyt would agree.
"Today was a pretty good day," said Foyt. "We had high hopes of maybe getting a pole but you know, getting a pole with all the competition you have here is pretty tough. This is about the best we've been in the last 20 years. So, I'm just happy we're starting fourth, I won the race from the fourth spot (twice) so maybe that's a good luck charm. I never won it from the pole so maybe it 'll come true again. Anyway, we had a lot of fun."
The team watched Last Chance Qualifying today in the Foyt garage. Left to right: Marlyne Sexton, Foyt, Ferrucci, Christian and Benjamin Pedersen.
Alex Palou won the pole with an average speed of 234.217mph; Rinus Veekay will start second. Rosenqvist will start third, followed by Ferrucci, Pato O'Ward and Scott Dixon.
Larry Foyt summed up the week saying, "Definitely just a little disappointed that we weren't a little closer going for the pole. But that's just the racer in you. We knew we had a fast car and the guys did a terrific job , but we weren't gonna do anything to jeopardize our race car either. We know we have a good race car, we're in a perfect spot that we can win the race from and that's the most important thing. I'm just proud of the whole team. Honestly, everybody pulled together this week, and put all the work in that it takes to compete at this level. And that's a great start for us. I hope it shows the direction we're headed as a race team. Surely a lot of work to still do, but this was just a great week because Indy's still very much our Super Bowl. It's super important for us. So, to come here and be competitive, especially for A.J., means a lot."