Sato Heads Honda Pole Contenders in First-Round Qualifying at Indianapolis

5/21/2017 12:28:00 AM

  • Six Honda drivers to contend for "Fast Nine" pole shootout
  • Dixon, Rossi, Alonso, Kanaan and Andretti also make "Fast Nine"
  • Final qualifying Sunday to set 33-car field

Led by Andretti Autoport's Takuma Sato, six Honda drivers completed qualifying runs among the top nine drivers today in first-round qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and will take part in Sunday's "Fast Nine" shootout for the coveted pole position in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28.

The tight first-round qualifying battle Saturday – held under changing weather conditions after activities were delayed by rain for approximately five hours – saw the nine pole contenders separated by less than a half mile per hour over four laps around the historic 2.5-mile Brickyard.

Following Sato, second fastest on the day, was Scott Dixon for Chip Ganassi Racing, third. Defending race winner Alexander Rossi posted the fifth-fastest average for Andretti Autosport, with teammate Fernando Alonso slotting in seventh as the only Indy 500 rookie to make the Fast Nine shootout. Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti rounded out the nine finalists for the pole.

Today's qualifying action was also marred by a massive crash for Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais had already set the two fastest qualifying laps of the day – at more than 231 mph – when the rear of his car started to slide in Turn 2. After an initial attempt at correcting the slide, his Dale Coyne Racing Honda turned hard right and hit the SAFER Barrier nearly head-on, then rolled down the track before coming to a stop upright.

After being removed from his car, Bourdais was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital, where he was diagnosed with multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip. According to INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Bourdais will undergo surgery on his pelvis this evening.

The nine fastest drivers from today's first-round qualifying will contend for the pole on Sunday, with each driver making a single qualifying run to determine his starting position in the first three rows of the "500". The remaining drivers are assured of making the field, but will also make second-round qualifying runs tomorrow to determine starting positions 10 through 33.

Takuma Sato (#26 Andretti Autosport Honda) second fastest in first-round qualifying: "My car was super fast. I must say a big 'thank you' to Andretti Autosport, the whole [Honda] 26 car crew, engineers, and of course, my teammates. Everything really worked really seamlessly over the past few days in practice. It was a great day yesterday, with Fast Friday. The car was great. Usually for the [Indianapolis] qualifying, I'm not enjoying. We don't like 'scrub' [understeer] in the car. That means the car ends up being absolutely neutral. You almost don't want to steer the car because any steer angle is scrubbing the speed. But the car was very, very stable. So, at one point I was starting to really enjoy Turn One. So I think the car was really good. Tremendous support from all the team effort."

Scott Dixon (#9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) third-fastest in qualifying Saturday: "It's a great day today in Indianapolis, and it's great to see so many fans out here, even after the rain we had. Just the butterflies and anticipation before you get to go out always gets you here. I think the NTT DATA car has been strong and the whole Ganassi team has been performing great. We're happy with our [qualifying speed] and we're pleased with the laps we ran. There is still tomorrow, of course, so doing the best we can on Sunday is what really matters."

Indianapolis 500 Qualifying
Circuit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval), Indianapolis, IN
2016 Winner: Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport Honda) 166.634 mph average
2016 Pole: James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) 230.760 mph four-lap average
Weather: Mostly cloudy, mild, early afternoon showers, 77-86 degrees F

Indianapolis 500 First Round Qualifying:

Ps.

Driver

Team

Manufacturer

Speed

1.

Ed Carpenter

Ed Carpenter Racing

Chevrolet

230.468

2.

Takuma Sato

Andretti Autosport

Honda

230.382

3.

Scott Dixon

Chip Ganassi Racing

Honda

230.333

4.

JR Hildebrand

Ed Carpenter Racing

Chevrolet

230.205

5.

Alexander Rossi

Andretti Autosport

Honda

230.148

6.

Will Power

Team Penske

Chevrolet

230.072

7.

Fernando Alonso-R

McLaren Honda-Andretti

Honda

230.034

8.

Tony Kanaan

Chip Ganassi Racing

Honda

230.007

9.

Marco Andretti

Andretti Autosport

Honda

229.924

Other Honda-powered Results:

10.

Ed Jones-R

Dale Coyne Racing

Honda

229.717

11.

Charlie Kimball

Chip Ganassi Racing

Honda

229.713

12.

Max Chilton

Chip Ganassi Racing

Honda

229.636

13.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Andretti Autosport

Honda

229.533

15.

Mikhail Aleshin

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Honda

229.217

16.

Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Honda

228.835

19.

James Hinchcliffe

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Honda

228.557

22.

Jay Howard

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Honda

227.853

24.

Oriol Servia

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Honda

227.150

25.

Jack Harvey-R

Michael Shank-Andretti

Honda

226.894

31.

Pippa Mann

Dale Coyne Racing

Honda

219.282

--

Sebastien Bourdais

Dale Coyne Racing

Honda

crash