INDIANAPOLIS — When Felix Rosenqvist finished his qualifying run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Alex Palou cried tears of joy as the Spaniard was officially on pole position for the 2023 Indianapolis 500.
Palou’s four-lap average of 234.217 mph was the second-fastest qualifications run in Indianapolis 500 history after Arie Luyendyk’s record-setting run of 1996 and beat Rinus VeeKay ‘s run of 234.211 mph.
The time difference? 0.004 seconds over ten miles.
“It means the world to me now, to the boys, to everybody,” Palou said on pit road. “We knew it was going to be tight, it was really tight, but the 10 car crew did an amazing job, all the CGR team gave me the fastest car today, so super happy.”
VeeKay’s effort fell short but the Dutch racer has his fourth top-four start without getting a pole position since his rookie year of 2020 (fourth, third and third).
“I got everything out of it but it’s just so tight, should have taken it down before this practice or had less lunch,” VeeKay said on pit road. “It’s so close, I think we really had a shot for pole position but also I’m a bit spoiled to say that. P2, I’m still very happy, we don’t win anything with this, this is only the start tot he race. Proud of the team, proud of the whole Bitnile crew and ECR and yeah, we’ll give them hell next week.”
Rosenqvist’s run of 234.114 mph put the Swedish racer third, on the outside of the front row. During Saturday’s qualifying, the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet was fastest and Rosenqvist repeated that performance in the Top 12 shootout.
“I didn’t really feel like we had the same speed this run as the previous one, not sure why, we’ll have to kind of look at it,” Rosenqvist said. “But anyways it’s phenomenal to be on the front row at the Indy 500, big thanks to Arrow McLaren, Team Chevy, NTT Data, we’re just super quick and as I said yesterday I think anyone can grab this pole and it’s so tight at the front and that last run just seemed like some guys found a bit more than we did.
“But I’m just super proud of the team, all four groups really they’ve been awesome and everyone’s just been helping everyone and this run in the end, the whole team was behind us and just trying to get everything out of this beautiful No. 6 car. I just missed out, but that’s racing.”
Santino Ferrucci, Rosenqvist’s Arrow McLaren teammate Pato O’Ward and Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon make up the second row.
A Fast Six shootout determined the first two rows, but to get to that point there was a Fast 12 shootout between the drivers who qualified fast enough to fill the first four rows of the grid.
In that shootout, Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan fell from the top half of the competitors into the bottom half while O’Ward and Ferrucci bumped their way from the bottom half into Sunday’s final qualifying session.
The Fast 12 shootout ended with Rossi, Takuma Sato and Kanaan making up the third row of the grid while defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, Benjamin Pedersen and Will Power comprise the fourth row.
There was a final row session in between the Fast 12 and Fast 6 Shootouts. Christian Lundgaard, Sting Ray Robb and Jack Harvey qualified for the 11th and final row of the field, Harvey doing so by .0044 seconds over his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal.
The Ohio native fell short of qualifying for the field nearly 30 years to the day of his father and team co-owner Bobby Rahal being bumped from the 1993 Indianapolis 500. The bump hurt extra because Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing had three cars in the four-car shootout and either Rahal or Harvey would be heading home without a spot in the field.
The Indianapolis 500 will air live on NBC. The broadcast will start at 11:00 a.m. ET with a 12:45 p.m. ET green flag.
Qualifying results below:indycar-results-quals-poleday