INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 22) – Day one of qualifying for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge took place today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The No. 16 Paretta Autosport/Rocket Pro TPO Chevy entry had fans on their feet as Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro attempted to qualify with her mostly female pit crew team preparing the car.
 
Having drawn the qualifying position of number 33, the popular team knew they had their work cut out for them with the mid-afternoon spot, where temperatures rose 25 degrees from the start of the session. De Silvestro went into qualifying confident after four productive days of testing this week at the 2.5-mile speedway. After four laps, she held the 31st position out of 35 cars attempting to make the 2021 field.
 
The Paretta Autosport team, who has a technical alliance with Team Penske, returned to the garage to make a few adjustments, knowing they would discard their earlier time and make another attempt to make the Top 30, whose effort to qualify would be solidified today for a berth in the Indy 500, May 30th.
 
When the times were not as strong as the team hoped, the “Iron Maiden” stayed on pit lane and the team hurried the Rocket Pro TPO Chevy back to the qualifying lane for a third effort as the clock was running out. With just 35 second remaining, Simona was released for a final four-lap qualifying attempt to improve her position while fans in the stands shouted her name and cheered her on. In the end, she did not break the Top 30, with her average time at 228.173 mph, classified in the 32nd position of the 33-car field. Qualifying outside of the Top 30 means the team must make another qualifying attempt tomorrow during last chance qualifying for the final three positions on the grid.
 
All eyes will be on this brand new female-forward team whose historic attempt to qualify for this year’s Indy 500 is going to run down to the final hours on Sunday’s “Bump Day”.
 
Tomorrow will feature two highly competitive battles – for the last three starting positions in the field of 33, including Paretta Autosport, and the pole-deciding Fast Nine Shootout to determine the starting order of the first three rows. Practice of nearly three hours with cars running in race setup while driving in groups will also be part of the schedule.
 
INDYCAR’s Day Two qualifying will be aired on NBCSN/Peacock in the U.S. from 1:00-2:30 p.m. with 2:30-4:30 continued on NBC/Peacock. All times Eastern.

Quotes follow:

Simona De Silvestro, Driver, No. 16 Paretta Autosport Rocket Pro TPO entry
“We just couldn’t find the balance of the car for some reason today. We’re close, but it’s definitely not where we thought we would be when we looked at the practices. We just need to see what’s happening, keep our heads down and try to qualify for tomorrow.

Beth Paretta, Team Owner/CEO, No. 16 Paretta Autosport Rocket Pro TPO entry
“The first attempt was planned so therefore your second and third attempts basically cascade from that first decision. It came down to the wire with the clock this afternoon. I will say that I was only nervous about if we were going to be able to get the attempt because once it’s underway there’s nothing I can do, I’m pretty confident for tomorrow. The great thing is it’s a two-day event. We’re going to work overnight. We always have the never give up attitude because that’s what got us here. So it is obviously going to continue because that’s what’s at our core.”

Michael Nelson, Strategist, No. 16 Paretta Autosport Rocket Pro TPO entry
“After the first qualifying attempt, we came back in and made some big changes to the car and got back out in time to make two more runs. We were fighting right on that bubble the whole time to make it in today but were just shy. So, we’ll go back tonight to look at the information and get it ready to go to get it into the show tomorrow.

Regarding having just 35-seconds remaining to make the final qualifying round:
“We laughed about it. We put the pressure on Madison Conrad, the starter in the back. If she didn’t hit it right, we wouldn’t have gotten to go out. So she did a really good job to get the car started under an enormous amount of pressure today.”

For more information, please visit www.parettaautosport.com or the team’s social media channels.