Felix Rosenqvist cleared the big hurdle on Saturday to earn a guaranteed slot in the 2019 Indianapolis 500, making the top 30 qualifying cut for his debut in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Completing three qualifying runs to ultimately record a 227.297 mph (365.79 km/h) four-lap average around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Rosenqvist wound up 29th on the final timesheets to ensure one of the 30 locked-in places in the field.
As a result, the Swedish rookie will not have to go through the intensity of Bump Day on Sunday, where the remaining three places on the final 33-car grid will be disputed. This segment will feature two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso (McLaren).
Rosenqvist qualifies for his maiden Indy 500 despite losing critical momentum due to a 220 mph practice crash on Wednesday, causing him to qualify aboard his spare car.
Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Scott Dixon, a former Indy 500 winner, qualified 18th on a challenging day overall for the squad with both cars drawing late run slots, subjecting them to warmer and less favourable weather conditions.
Spencer Pigot (Ed Carpenter Racing) recorded the fastest qualifying average on Saturday at 230.083 mph (370.28 km/h).
“It was maybe not where we wanted to be with the NTT DATA car, but we got through the top 30 and that was the first goal of the day,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “We knew we weren’t fighting for pole or anything; it was just one step at a time. We expected to be a bit faster than what we were, maybe up in the 228s [mph], but it is what it is. At least we improved a bit on the final run and we are through to the race, so we don’t have to worry about any bumping or anything. It was a good comeback from the boys after that crash on Wednesday, which hurt us quite a lot. We’re in the game and I can’t wait for my first Indy 500.”
The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, May 26. Preparations for the 500-mile oval classic continue with further practice sessions across the coming days.
Indy 500 – qualifying
Chasing the milk: Indy 500 guide