Katherine Legge

For the second consecutive year, Santino Ferrucci put an AJ Foyt Racing car in the Firestone Fast Six. Ferrucci qualified his No. 14 Homes For Our Troops Chevrolet with a four-lap average of 232.692 mph, good enough to wrestle sixth in the 33-car field for 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Ferrucci said he can win from there.

“I feel pretty good about it going into Monday (practice),” Ferrucci said.

Last May, Ferrucci qualified fourth and finished third, leading 11 laps, becoming the second AJ Foyt Racing driver this century to lead the “500” in the team’s iconic No. 14 Chevrolet. That jolt sparked a revitalization through the organization that lingered on a sun-drenched Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

“It’s so cool to be representing AJ Foyt Racing,” Ferrucci said. “These guys don’t give up, no matter how small you are. It’s all about attention to detail, and that’s all we tell these guys. There’s a process to follow.”

Ferrucci said he’s part of that process. As a driver, he noted he his role is to hit every mark on the track, hit every shift point, every corner apex and more. Everything counts. He trusts the team around him and hopes to make magic May 26 hopeful to score his maiden NTT INDYCAR SERIES win and AJ Foyt Racing’s first “500” victory since Kenny Brack’s in 1999.

“I don’t feel bad about my run,” Ferrucci said. “That’s all I could ask for. We got a pony in the show. That’s the only thing that matters is next Sunday.”

Ferrucci has five top-10 finishes in as many Indianapolis 500 tries, including three top-six results in the last four.

Power Second Again

For the first time since 1988, Team Penske swept the front row for the108th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Remarkably, Power called that shot April 20 following his second-place starting spot for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Almost a month later, his prophetic revelation came true.

But Power wasn’t the one hoisting the NTT P1 Award hardware. He qualified second at 233.917 in his No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet. Teammate Scott McLaughlin earned the pole at 234.220 in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet with the fastest four-lap average pole speed in “500” history.

This is the third time Power qualified in the middle of Row 1 for the “500” and third time in the last four races of this NTT INDYCAR SERIES season he starts from second place.

Power’s desperation to earn an NTT P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500 is waning. He said it just seems like a pole isn’t meant to be.

Despite scoring a record 70 NTT INDYCAR SERIES poles, Power is 0-for-17 for an Indy 500 pole.

“Yeah, I just keep getting seconds this year, but I'm not sure I'll ever get this pole,” he said. “For some weird reason, I just think it's one of those things where racing gods go, ‘Yeah, you can have the pole record, but you're certainly not going to get this one.’

“That's just the irony of life. Like I said yesterday, it's not the end of the world if I don't. It's just a box to tick. It's a good one. Obviously, the race winner is much bigger.”

Power won the 2018 Indianapolis 500 and enters as a favorite for next Sunday’s race. Power has three runner-up finishes in four races this season.

Power may be mired in a 32-race winless drought, but if the two-time series champion keeps finishing like he has recently, that streak soon will snap. In that winless span, Team Penske driver Power has seven runner-up finishes, including three in four races this season.

Rossi Tries To Balance Indy Mindset

Alexander Rossi has the distinction of being the top non-Team Penske qualifier for next Sunday’s 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Rossi starts fourth in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet following a four-lap qualifying average of 233.090.

The Team Penske trio swept the front row with Scott McLaughlin being the only driver in the 234-mph bracket while Power, Josef Newgarden and Rossi the only drivers to eclipse a 233-mph average.

Being the fastest non-Penske driver Saturday, did Rossi focus on improving his program with adjustments or turn the aim to Team Penske for an NTT P1 Award run a day later?

“It’s both,” he said. “I don’t think we could have as an organization got anything more out of what we did. This place is a culmination of a lot of different things that result in performance. It certainly wasn’t a lack of effort.”

Rossi said he was disappointed to have to accept the Penske sweep but said his “race” car is just as good -- if not better – than his car in qualifying trim.

Rossi, the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 winner as a rookie, has finished fifth in his last two “500” starts and had six top-10 finishes in eight tries overall. Sunday’s qualifying effort is Rossi’s sixth top-10 start in his last eight tries.

Legge Proves She Belongs

Ahead of Sunday’s Last Chance Qualifying during PPG presents Armed Forces Qualifying, Katherine Legge was one of four drivers competing for the final three spots in the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

She kept her emotions in check before climbing into the pink-and-black No. 51 e.l.f. Cosmetics Dale Coyne Racing Honda. Legge said she was nervous like any other human being would be in that moment, but the anxiety while waiting to make her run wasn’t as overwhelming as she expected.

Then during her qualifying run, the car wiggled hard on the last of the four laps.

But she couldn’t lift off the gas pedal. That might keep her out of the show as the lone driver going home.

“Honestly, it was terrifying,” she said.

Legge, 43, said that huge wiggle contributed to the most stressful laps she had ever done in her career. She had to dig deep and ensure her foot stayed glued to the gas pedal even with the car trying to spin.

The relief of pulling onto pit road following a four-lap qualifying average of 230.092 left her with mixed emotions. On one side, the nerves she lacked hopping into the car before qualifying were replaced by raw fear. She also was relieved she could get out and breathe again.

Following a strenuous 40-minute wait whether she would need to make another attempt, the outpouring of emotions flowed with joy. Legge was safe. She didn’t need to return to the cockpit.

She hopes the brilliant display of driving and holding onto a snapping, loose race car shows the world that she belongs in the Indianapolis 500.

“If me catching it and staying flat does not signify to the rest of the world that I belong here, then I don't know what does,” she said.

Rahal Overcomes Struggles To Make Show

For the second consecutive May, Graham Rahal was a Last Chance Qualifying participant. This time, Rahal made the show, qualifying in the 33rd and final spot into next Sunday’s 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge after getting bumped out of the field last year by then-teammate Jack Harvey.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal said even with all the advancements the organization since the debacle last May, he noticed the lack of speed with his son’s No. 15 United Rentals Honda begin 72 hours ago.

“We’ve struggled this weekend,” he said. “Toward the end of this week, we struggled and couldn’t really seem to find the key to it all.”

Did this weekend make the “Indy Recovery Plan” incomplete?

Rahal said a lot of the things RLL did over the year were a benefit. The team closed the gap to the “elite group.” But Rahal’s experience knows even with improving on speed, teams must nail the chassis balance.

“If the setup isn’t quite right, it’s going to negate all those improvements,” he said.

Rahal admitted what was lacking in the setup was straight line speed. He said Graham Rahal was entering Turn 3 at 235 mph. The Chevrolet-powered cars were reaching 241 mph. That deficit can’t be made up in the corners.

To make the race has him sleeping much better Sunday night.

“I'm really relieved,” he said. “I think it added a couple more years of my life, but I'm really relieved.”

Kanaan Lends Helping Hand to Siegel

Kyle Larson has preached how important Tony Kanaan has been to his NTT INDYCAR SERIES development for next Sunday’s 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. That knowledge was passed to another rookie driver Sunday – Nolan Siegel.

On Thursday, Siegel did a half-spin and made left front contact in his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier. The car became airborne and landed on the left sidepod, sliding down the backstretch on the roll hoop.

The crash put Siegel behind.

He was last among 34 drivers on the no-tow report during “Fast Friday” with a top speed of 228.742. For the opening day of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying, Siegel was last again with a top four-lap average of 228.841. Among the 74 qualifying attempts, 70 went to completion of a full four-lap run. Siegel’s three four-lap tries were the slowest.

Kanaan was given the nod by Arrow McLaren to cross teams and manufacturers to give Siegel’s No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda team guidance on how to make the field. There is a connection between Siegel and McLaren: The 19-year-old drives sports cars for United Autosports, owned by McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

“It’s great to have Tony here,” Siegel said. “There are a lot of people that have been willing to help, and I really appreciate it. There’s so many people here that have so much experience like Tony and people like that can being something to the table. Whether it’s driving-wise or car wise, he just has a lot of knowledge. I’m just really grateful that he’s willing to help.”

Siegel crashed in the closing seconds of his final qualifying run in Last Chance Qualifyying, making him the lone driver to miss the field. Still, Siegel said the pair of qualifying attempts in the Last Chance session were the best laps he’d run all week. Unfortunately, he pushed the car beyond the limits.

“I wasn’t going to go home because I lifted,” he said of his crash. “Here I am.”

Odds and Ends

  • Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson was in attendance Sunday. This was his first visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • Five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, who was at IMS this weekend, said he talked to team owner Rick Hendrick about Larson’s intense qualifying runs and said both he and Hendrick were riding the emotional waves of Indianapolis 500 qualifying. “It’s crazy how the ups and downs. We’re just happy things are going well. He had so much to learn and yet he’s applying it all as well as one could ever imagine.”
  • Gordon, a long-time Chevrolet supporter with the manufacturer powering all 93 of his NASCAR Cup Series victories, said the powerplant’s dominance in Indianapolis 500 qualifying helps with the timing of Larson’s maiden NTT INDYCAR SERIES start. Chevy-powered cars took the top eight spots on the starting grid.
  • Larson’s first lap of his Top 12 Qualifying at 233.453 topped Benjamin Pedersen’s record from last year (233.297) as the quickest one-lap qualifying speed by a rookie.
  • With six rookie qualifiers, the amount of drivers to start an Indianapolis 500 eclipses 800, with 801 drivers qualifying for the “500.”
  • The 231.943 mph field average is the second fastest field in Indianapolis 500 history trailing last year’s 232.184.
  • McLaughlin’s pole is the 10th time the No. 3 starts first in Indianapolis 500 history. The last time was 2010 with Helio Castroneves. Car No. 1 (13 times) is tops.
  • 2022 “500” winner Marcus Ericsson raised eyebrows when he lifted after his third qualifying lap during his first Last Chance Qualifying run, thinking his four-lap sequence was over. Ericsson and Andretti Global returned the No. 28 Delaware Life Honda to the pits and made another run, qualifying at 230.027. Ericsson took full responsibility for the gaffe after qualifying.
  • The seventh-place start for Rinus VeeKay is his lowest in five tries. He qualified fourth, third, third and second previously.