Andretti Leads as Honda Dominates First Round Qualifying at Indianapolis

  • Marco Andretti fastest as Honda drivers claim top five speeds in first-round qualifying
  • Honda drivers claim eight of “Fast Nine” final qualifying positions, 11 of top 12 overall
  • Final Qualifying for 104th Indianapolis 500 takes place Sunday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 15, 2020) –  Honda drivers and teams dominated first-round qualifying today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Led by Marco Andretti and the Andretti Autosport team, the manufacturer claimed eight of the fastest nine qualifying runs today, making them eligible for Sunday’s “Fast Nine” shootout to set the first three rows of the starting grid and the coveted pole position for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500.

Led by Marco Andretti’s four-lap run of 231.351 mph, Andretti Autosport drivers swept the first four positions on the provisional grid, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe rounding out the top four.  Championship leader, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, ended the day fifth after “waving off” a very fast last-minute run.  Rookie Alex Palou was seventh for Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh; while the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato rounded out the “Fast Nine”.  Four different Honda-powered teams will all have at least one driver in tomorrow’s pole shootout.

Despite lining up 28th [a result of Friday night’s blind qualifying draw] – and therefore with the disadvantage of a far hotter track than his principal opponents – Andretti delivered the first 232mph lap en route to the fastest qualifying run of the day.  Hinchcliffe and Palou also impressed with their runs coming in the less favored heat of mid-afternoon.

Positions 10 through 33 were locked-in today, with Colton Herta, Marcus Ericsson and Spencer Pigot filling out the fourth row of the starting grid for Honda.  Felix Rosenqvist will start in the middle of the fifth row, 14th, for Chip Ganassi Racing; with Zach Veach in the middle of row six and Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey in the center of the seventh row.  Santino Ferrucci will start to the inside of Harvey after qualifying 19th today; while James Davison rounds out the 15-driver Honda field and will start 27th.

Honda Racing social media content and videos from practice and qualifying from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is available on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD) and on Twitter at (https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD).  Produced by the CoForce Digital Media, YouTube video packages can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.  

Next

Final qualifying, for today’s nine fastest qualifiers will determine the coveted pole position and set the first three rows of starters for the August 23 Indianapolis 500.  Live television coverage of final qualifying begins on NBC at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday.  Coverage on the NBC Sport Gold app begins at 10 a.m. EDT.

The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, August 23, with live television coverage on NBC starting with pre-race festivities at 1 p.m. EDT.

Quotes

Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport Honda) Fastest in opening-round qualifying today: “Man, when it all comes together, it’s beautiful.  The balance was great. Honda really ‘brought it’ this year, so thanks to them. Now we’ve got to do it one more time tomorrow [in final qualifying for today’s top nine]. “The ‘roll-off’ speed of the Honda, the team and car they put together, has been really impressive.  When you roll off [the transporter] with speed, that’s always the first hurdle at Indianapolis. When you get over that, then it’s about fine tuning and circumstances [such as weather], so hopefully we are on the better end of things.”

Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Championship leader, fifth fastest today in first-round qualifying: “I didn’t know if our first attempt would be good enough to keep us in the ‘Fast Nine’. We were fairly conservative on balance and overall downforce. As we got through the hotter parts of the day today it got harder for the drivers to hold on to the cars when they were this trimmed out, but we improved from sixth to fifth [with a second run in the afternoon]. I don’t think you want to go fastest today because that means tomorrow you’ll go last in the hottest part of the day. I’m pretty happy though with the PNC Bank and always proud to be powered by Honda.”

Ted Klaus (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s first-round qualifying results: “Well, we are honestly a little surprised at exactly how things played out today — pleasantly surprised, You’ve got Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing all represented [in the Fast Nine].  Our group at HPD always do a great job, so I don’t want to take anything away from them. The high-boost formula has never been run in qualifying [at Indy] and I think IndyCar gets kudos [for introducing it]. We made the car safer with the Aeroscreen, and now we’ve made them faster, which is a win-win. The teams have been very gracious to us this year, saying they’re proud to be powered by Honda; and I just throw it right back at them, that we’re proud to power them. I think the collaboration and cooperation between the teams and HPD –  pushing each other – has been the biggest difference. The result is we’ve been a little bit faster. I think it would be unfair to the teams and how much work they’ve put in to say, ‘It’s just because we found a little power.’ It’s a whole bunch of little things, all stacked on top of each other. It’s definitely satisfying to watch it come to fruition in qualifying.”

Indianapolis 500 First Round Qualifying

Circuit:               Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval), Indianapolis, IN

2019 Winner:    Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) 175.794 mph average

Weather:           Sunny, warm, 83 degrees F

Indianapolis 500 First-Round Qualifying Results:

Ps.Driver      TeamManufacturerAvg. SpeedNotes
  1.Marco AndrettiAndretti Herta AutosportHonda231.351Advances to Fast Nine
  2.Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportHonda231.330Advances to Fast Nine
  3.Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda231.268Advances to Fast Nine
  4.James HinchcliffeAndretti Autosport Honda231.195Advances to Fast Nine
  5.Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda231.155Advances to Fast Nine
  6.Rinus VeeKay-REd Carpenter RacingChevrolet230.114Advances to Fast Nine
  7.Alex Palou-RDCR with Team Goh               Honda231.034Advances to Fast Nine
  8.Graham RahalRahal Letterman LaniganHonda230.822Advances to Fast Nine
  9.Takuma SatoRahal Letterman LaniganHonda230.792Advances to Fast Nine  
10.Colton HertaAndretti Harding AutosportHonda230.775 
11.Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi Racing Honda230.763 
12.Spencer PigotRLL with Citrone/Buhl AutosportHonda230.539   
13.Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevrolet230.296 
14.Felix RosenqvistChip Ganassi Racing            Honda230.254 
15.Pato O’Ward-RArrow McLaren SPChevrolet230.213   
16.Ed CarpenterEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet230.211 
17.Zach VeachAndretti AutosportHonda229.961 
18.Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet229.955   
19.Santino FerrucciDCR with Vasser-Sullivan     Honda229.924 
20.Jack HarveyMeyer Shank RacingHonda229.861 
21.Oliver Askew-RArrow McLaren SPChevrolet229.760   
22.Will PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet229.701 
23.Tony KanaanA.J. Foyt EnterprisesChevrolet229.154 
24.Dalton Kellett-RA.J. Foyt EnterprisesChevrolet228.880   
25.Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeChevrolet228.836 
26.Fernando AlonsoArrow McLaren SPChevrolet228.768 
27.James DavisonDCR with Ware/Byrd/BelardiHonda228.747   
28.Helio CastronevesTeam PenskeChevrolet228.373 
29.Charlie KimballA.J. Foyt EnterprisesChevrolet227.758 
30.Sage KaramDreyer & Reinbold RacingChevrolet227.099   
31.JR HildebrandDreyer & Reinbold RacingChevrolet226.341 
32.Max ChiltonCarlin RacingChevrolet225.819 
33.Ben HanleyDragon Speed RacingChevrolet220.946