INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In a thrilling "Fast Nine" final qualifying shootout for the coveted pole starting position, Marco Andretti edged fellow Honda driver Scott Dixon today by just 0.017 mph for the honor of leading the field to the green flag in next Sunday's 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Takuma Sato completed a front-row lockout for Honda, as the manufacturer swept the front row and claimed 11 of the top-12 starting positions for next weekend's race. Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe will start on the second row, fifth and sixth, respectively. The third row also is all Honda, with rookie Alex Palou starting seventh, followed by Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi.
Four different Honda-powered teams are represented in the top nine, including Andretti Autosport (Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe and Rossi); Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Sato and Rahal); Chip Ganassi Racing (Dixon) and Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh (Palou).
Andretti's four-lap margin over second fastest Scott Dixon was the third closest in "500" history. Only 2012 (Ryan Briscoe over Honda's James Hinchcliffe by 0.003 mph) and 1970 (Al Unser over Johnny Rutherford by 0.008 mph) were closer.
On Saturday, Honda drivers and teams also dominated first-round qualifying at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition to placing eight drivers into the Fast Nine shootout, Honda drivers fill out the fourth row of the starting grid with Colton Herta, Marcus Ericsson and Spencer Pigot. Felix Rosenqvist will start in the middle of the fifth row, 14th; with Zach Veach in the middle of row six and Meyer Shank Racing's Jack Harvey in the center of the seventh row. Santino Ferrucci will start to the inside of Harvey after qualifying 19th ; while James Davison rounds out the 15-driver Honda field and will start 27th.
Next The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, August 23, with live television coverage on NBC starting with pre-race festivities at 1 p.m. EDT.
Quotes Marco Andretti(Andretti Autosport Honda) Pole qualifier, his first Indianapolis 500 pole, 11th Indy pole for Honda: "For me, I started feeling the wind on Lap 2, which meant it was going to be a long couple of laps! Laps 3 and 4 definitely were sort of sketchy. [On leading the field to the green flag to start next weekend's Indianapolis 500] It's the best seat in the house! Clean air is always good here. Speed's always good here and man, horsepower's so cool, isn't it? Makes everything so much easier. Honda did an unbelievable job, and our team rolled off so fast [from the first of practice]. I'm just so excited!"
Scott Dixon(Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Qualified in the middle of the front row, second: "Massive thank you to Honda and HPD, they've done a tremendous job. We know they've worked very hard for the race as well. I feel like we didn't leave much on the table, we could've also gotten the car a little more neutral, it was pretty 'understeery' right from the get-go. But it is what it is, [Fast Nine qualifying] is tough, especially with the wind conditions today. That's what makes it so exciting, it was extremely close [for the pole] right there at the end and unfortunately, we came up a little bit short. But I'm extremely happy for Marco [Andretti]. He's a great person and a really good racer. We just have to try to beat them [in the race] next weekend."
Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda) Qualified on the outside of the front row, third: "First, big congrats to Marco [Andretti] and Andretti Autosport, they did a fantastic job [winning the pole]. Starting on the front row is a big accomplishment for us. Everyone at Rahal Letterman Lanningan Racing worked hard over the off season to improve our performance here and the results showed today. Honda, great, great work from them, just a tremendous job from them and the team. Now we shift to preparing for the race. We have another practice this afternoon that will be extremely important; also 'Carb Day' [final practice on Friday]. We believe we have a strong car in race trim, we're so already looking forward to the race on Sunday."
Ted Klaus(President, Honda Performance Development) on today's Indianapolis 500 pole and front-row sweep for Honda: "This has been a great weekend for Honda, and we're thrilled to have the pole, and an all-Honda front row. Everyone at HPD and our partner teams can take pride in the accomplishments this weekend. We all know that the race is going to be a battle. You'll see tire degradation and pit strategy and fuel-saving strategy all play out just like it's played out in years past. That's why the race will be fascinating and fun to watch. I'll keep my fingers crossed that I don't do anything to piss off the racing gods so that we can have one of our teams bring it home into Victory Circle next Sunday."
Indianapolis 500 Starting Lineup
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval), Indianapolis, IN