CHEVROLET IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
TEAM CHEVY FIRESTONE FAST SIX QUALIFYING REPORT
MAY 21, 2023
CHEVROLET QUALIFIES TWO ON THE FRONT ROW FOR THE 107TH RUNNING OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
- Rinus VeeKay, of Ed Carpenter Racing, has been the best qualifying Chevrolet for the Indianapolis 500 for four years in a row.
- This is also the ninth front row start in 11 years for an Ed Carpenter Racing entrant, all with Chevrolet.
- This is Felix Rosenqvist’s, driver at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR, first front row start at the Indianapolis 500.
- This is the best starting position for an entry from AJ Foyt Racing since Robby Gordon in 2001.
- Legendary driver and now-team owner AJ Foyt won two of his four Indianapolis 500 victories from the fourth starting position, the same starting position as AJ Foyt Racing driver Santino Ferrucci will start the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 from.
- Pato O’Ward, of Arrow McLaren INDYCAR, will start in the middle second row of the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, qualifying fifth in the Firestone Fast Six.
TEAM CHEVY TOP-SIX QUALIFYING RESULT:
2nd Rinus VeeKay
3rd Felix Rosenqvist
4th Santino Ferrucci
5th Pato O’Ward
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING (QUOTES)
Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:
“I got everything out of it but I wish I had just a little bit more. I got tight and I should have let it run a little bit, but I mean, it’s it’s so close. You know, the whole group really had a shot for pole position. I am a bit spoiled to say that so starting second, and still very happy. We don’t win anything with this you know, this is only the start to the race. We’ll get them held next week.”
Felix Rosenqvist, No. 6 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“I didn’t really feel like we had the same speed as far as the previous one. I’m not sure why, we’ll have to look at the data and see what it was. But anyways, it’s phenomenal to be on the front row and keep us where we are–super quick. I think anyone can grab this pole and it’s so tight that the front and that last one just seemed like some guys find a bit more than we did. I’m just super proud of the team. It has all been awesome and everyone’s just been helping everyone and like this one team was behind us and I tried to get everything out of this beautiful number six car and it’s great a great car.”
Santino Ferrucci, No. 14 Chevrolet at AJ Foyt Racing:
“I’m really proud of this. I mean, we’re the underdog here to be fighting for top six and the biggest race of the year, and the biggest race in the world is pretty awesome. And like I said before the race matters. So we’ll just have to pass some people…that’s about it.
“Yeah, I feel great about it. I mean gratulations Alex (Palou). I can’t thank my team enough. I mean, these guys worked so hard last couple of weeks and months to prepare this car and to start up front like we are knowing that we got a great race car and shot to win this thing. I’m so proud of the guys.”
Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren INDYCAR:
“This is awesome. My first Fast Six. And it’s just it’s awesome for the team. I mean, I’d love to just to get on the front row. I love how these current loops that we came out with. Really, really cool, but we also have to share the front row which is okay.
But, I don’t know man and Palou has been really strong. VeeKay has as well. I think the No. 6 car has a lot of speed is good enough for front row and that’s what I’m hoping I’d be… But I think yeah, man, I mean, this is good,”
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, and FELIX ROSENQVIST, NO. 6 ARROW MCLAREN CHEVROLET – End of Day Press Conference:
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, wrapping up qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2023 setting the field for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500. Felix Rosenqvist will also join us here in just a bit.
But joined now by the young man that will start second in the race a week from today, Rinus VeeKay, 234.211. That’s the second closest gap one-two in 500 history. It goes back to 6 thousandths of a mile an hour versus what Ryan Briscoe did with James Hinchcliffe in 2012, and that was three thousandths of a mile an hour. That’s how close it was between one and two.
Rinus, driving the No. 21 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, the third straight front row start for Rinus. He was the fastest Chevy driver four years in a row how, and ECR, Ed Carpenter Racing, now with their ninth front row start in 11 years. Rinus, it was that close.
RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, it was very close. Wow, very happy, but also a bit bummed. We had that shot, and I wish we could have done it. It would have been so great for the team. But also I’m bummed to be starting the Indy 500 second.
Not bad, definitely, but yeah, I think it just has to sink in a little bit. What is in my head now is I lost, but no, I will enjoy this one, and it’s my best starting position so far in the 500, which fourth, third, third and second, we all know what comes in my car number after second, and that’s a 1.
Just very proud of the team, also. We had a tough morning, kind of went downhill for a bit, and we still — the team still made it happen. The only thing I had to do was stay flat for four laps, and the ECR Bitnile crew gave me the best possible car for this moment.
Q. Do you think back lap by lap where maybe you could have picked up a tenth or a thousandth here or there, or was that a perfect four-lap run for you?
RINUS VEEKAY: I’m not sure how much better it could have gone. The car felt the best it’s felt in qualifying trim, and yeah, should have had a bit less lunch. I think that’s it.
Q. You mentioned the emotions that go into today, knowing you’ve got to make two attempts, throw in what happened in that practice this morning. Talk about not getting too high or too low throughout the day and the emotions that were brought out of your today.
RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, it’s a long day, actually longer than last year because there was a big break between the two, the Fast Twelve and the Fast Six. But I think I was the least nervous for the Fast Six because I already made it that far — I’m sorry, worst-case scenario I’m starting sixth. So emotions were pretty good, and also within the team was very chill.
Just very happy to have it done now and focus towards the race.
Q. You probably know the F1 race was canceled due to bad weather. Do you think you can now beat your countryman Max Verstappen for popularity in Holland?
RINUS VEEKAY: It’s definitely nice that — not nice; it’s terrible what happened there. But it’s good that all eyes are on INDYCAR this weekend.
I wish they’d move Monaco next weekend a bit, but at least, yeah, there’s a lot of people tuning in. That’s very nice. I hope the popularity for INDYCAR grows very fast in the Netherlands and all over the world.
Q. Rinus, of course there’s tomorrow’s practice, Carb Day. You’re sandwiched with McLaren and Ganassi in the front row. What’s going to be instrumental to get that car and in order to get Ed that big win over the next few days?
RINUS VEEKAY: I think definitely the most important thing is staying out of trouble, having a clean race, and making sure we’re there when we tune it up at the end of the race.
I know looking at the practice rounds we’ve done that the car is maybe even better in race trim than qualifying trim.
I was very happy on Thursday in our last traffic run, so yeah, just very excited to show that in the race.
Q. Was there any impact to not having a teammate this year in the Fast Six compared to having Ed the last couple years to maybe do some setup changes between?
RINUS VEEKAY: I think it definitely helped out like to have a teammate in there. It’s always nice to have someone with the same setup, same exact car, do a run before and making some little tweaks.
But yeah, I wish Ed was in there and I could have battled with Ed or Conor. But I think for the underdog car in there, it was nice to have a good shot at it and almost hitting the bull’s eye.
Q. The other morning we talked and I asked how you’d grade your season so far, and you said 4 out of 10. Does a day like today help morale?
RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, definitely. This is the best qualifying result for the team since I’ve joined, so definitely not bad, and yeah, just very, very happy for the team that we got this, and I think it definitely helps morale, not only for me but for all the three car crews.
We’re going to work as hard as we can. We’ve just got to find the grit and the determination to make it happen. But it’s a great group, and I’m excited that we’re going to be in the race, albeit last. We’ll do our best now.
THE MODERATOR: Also joined by Felix Rosenqvist who will start on the outside of row 1, driver of the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet with his first front-row start. By the way, once again, for the second straight year, this is the fastest front row in Indy 500 history, making up, once again, the fastest field in Indy 500 history.
Again, Felix, congratulations. Your thoughts about starting on the front row.
FELIX ROSENQVIST: It’s mixed feelings right now. I think overall it’s a very good day for us. I think these two found something in the Fast Six that we didn’t find. We felt like we were kind of on top of it going into it. We were not confident, but we felt like we put the best possible scenario on the car, and big thanks to all the group for Arrow McLaren and Team Chevy, as well. I think the whole team came together for this final run where we threw everything we had at it, and we missed out, and it’s the second time in not so long I’m sitting here and missing pole with I think one or two thousandths. It’s what it is, but overall we have to be proud to have all the cars in the top 12. It’s just been a phenomenal month for us so far.
But yeah, big congrats to Alex and also to Rinus. That was a hell of a run. We couldn’t match that today.
THE MODERATOR: Fastest field in history, 232.184 miles an hour, breaking the record last year we set, 231.023.
THE MODERATOR: For Felix, fast guy yesterday, fast guy in the Fast 12. Were you a little bit surprised that you didn’t have the speed there at the end when it looked like the track conditions were probably the best they’d been all weekend?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, I don’t know. It didn’t feel like it. I could feel on the run pretty much on my warmup lap that it didn’t feel as sporty as it did earlier today, so kind of had to look what went wrong. Obviously we didn’t change a bunch on the car. We were pretty sure what we put on was the best we’d done all month.
But man, it’s tight, and if you don’t get it 10 out of 10, there’s going to be two other boys sitting next to you with better lap times.
I think anyway, it’s just been incredible, and just to have the privilege to drive a car that looks that good and is that fast I think is — yeah, it makes it pretty cool.
Q. Felix, back in Europe the 500 feels a bit further away and the focus is on more circuit racing type stuff. Can you kind of talk from the background that you grew up in what the kind of qualifying what you did today means and how big an occasion the 500 qualifying is just based on everything that’s happened today?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, it’s huge, man. I remember when Kenny Brack, who was the first driver I grew up watching actually before F1 or anything, and he had a big shunt, he came back, and I think he set a really good lap time after his injury, and that was a big deal in Sweden, and that was kind of my first memories of racing. So it’s a big deal, and in Sweden it’s huge because he won the race, and now obviously Marcus won it last year.
So Sweden is pumped in this race right now. There’s a lot of Swedish flags out there already, and everyone is sitting back home and watching late at night.
It’s incredible to see the interest has grown, and I think people in general get a better understanding of the ovals. When I came over here, it was like, what’s the difference, like how do you go quicker on an oval. You hear that question a lot. And now people are already looking at ambient temperatures and humidity and wind, and everyone is becoming like experts at analyzing the drivers and lines and stuff.
It’s cool to see. It’s definitely on the upward trend.
Q. Rinus, I believe you started on the front row already, but what’s it like outside front row going into Turn 1? You ought to be a master at it by now, and the fact that you start so far up has to give you a really good strategic edge or tactical edge in the race.
RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, definitely helps. I feel like even if race running when we did that in the beginning of the week, you definitely feel there’s a bunch of cars in front of you, more than three, it gets very hard to pass. This way if you are in the top 3 you can basically save fuel and focus on that kind of stuff to move your way forward. That helps, that definitely helps, and we’ve got to make sure we stay in there for the last part of the race, and then I think everyone tears it up.
Q. Felix, this is a pretty big accomplishment for you starting on the front row of the Indianapolis 500. You’re having a great, great weekend so far, great week, a lot of speed. I know you’re probably living in the moment a little bit, but your future is a little bit uncertain right now. You’re sitting next to the guy. How much confidence does that give you even about your career, about how you’re doing this week, and even maybe going into next year, do you think this is a time where you can really build that resume up and show everybody, not just Arrow McLaren, that hey, I belong here, this is what I’m meant to do?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: I mean, it doesn’t hurt. We always try to be quick, and I feel like most of the time we are. INDYCAR racing is not easy, and it doesn’t always go the way you want, but no, I feel like it’s been a good year so far, even with two DNFs to start the year. It’s obviously super difficult to crawl out of that.
But on top of that, it’s been great. Everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve been quick. We’ve been qualifying up front. We’ve been good in the races, good strategy.
The whole team has just come together so well that I just feel like there’s quite a lot in store for us for the rest of the season, and obviously now we’re here again on the front row in the second race in a row.
It’s awesome. We just have to ride the wave, and I feel like that way is going to get bigger as the year goes on, and what happens for me in the future, I don’t know, and I don’t really think about it right now. I just try to be in the now, extract everything I can every race, and I always tell myself things work themselves out if you just focus on what you do in the car.
Q. What is it like, most people will never, ever get a chance to drive a car like this, hanging it out. What is it like out there? Do you feel raw emotion, or is there a little bit of scared going on when you’re hanging the car out? What is going on, Felix, when you’re out there in a run like that with everything on the line?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: For me it’s like the most focused you can be. You’re just very — it’s like a very high level of discipline, and knowing yourself, knowing the car, trusting the car, trusting your engineers, trusting your mechanics, but at the same time you kind of just have to shut everything off.
But it feels cool, man. Yeah, it feels quick. I don’t know how else to explain it.
You’re so focused — Not scary, but you know it’s big consequences, and when you feel the car start sliding, you kind of have to just bury it and do some changes to your tools, and then you’re just hoping it’s not going to be the same in the next corner, and it’s kind of a funny thing, but like one press wrong on that button can be the difference of being P1 or being in the wall.
It’s a fun dance, I guess, and it’s fun when you’re out there, but when you’re done, you’re also quite happy.
Q. You’re touching so many buttons, making all these adjustments through a run like that, does it take away from the fun part?
FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, it’s so tight now, man. It seems every time I’m here for qualifying, it’s a record of some sort. It’s the tightest field or the tightest for pole or we have the tightest Fast Six on the GP here a couple of weeks ago.
I think we just have to exploit everything we can get our hands on. If there’s a button to press and you go a bit quicker, we’ll press it.
I feel like it’s getting busier and busier as the years go on. Like you see a couple of runs from the past where maybe you could analyze as well with simulation and computers and stuff, but you just kind of hang on, and now it’s more like being on the very, very fine limit which you can do when you have all the resources that both our teams have, and then when you’re there, you just have to extract every little thousandth out of it. I think it’s pretty cool. It’s sporty, and I think it makes it harder.