INDIANAPOLIS — We’ve had 5 different organizations win the pole in the last 6 years for the Indianapolis 500. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is 1 of them but McLaren Racing wasn’t. Can their merger together put them not only on the front row for next Sunday’s 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) but maybe snag a pole too?
Just two years ago they didn’t even make the show. Now, they leave here Saturday night having 2 of the fastest 3 drivers on Opening Day of Indianapolis 500 Time Trials.
Part of that is due to the qualifying draw. All 3 cars drew in the top 9 qualifiers with Pato O’Ward going out 1st and Felix Rosenqvist in 4th.
O’Ward set the 5th fastest qualifying four-lap average ever here at 233.037 mph in his No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet while Rosenqvist’s (232.775 mph) was 7th.
“A really strong day for us, I’m really happy with our car balance,” O’Ward said. “I’m glad our first run was quick enough to get us into the Fast 12. Tomorrow is all about who can get the quickest two times, as we’ve got to make it into the Fast Six and then battle for the front row. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish, we’re running really well in our car and the No. 7 car is also really strong. I want to say thank you to Arrow McLaren SP and Chevrolet for giving us such strong cars.”
Rosenqvist qualified on the pole for the other superspeedway race this season in Texas. Now, he’s looking to go 2-for-2 for 2022.
“Today was a good day, I think we had a good draw which definitely helped us but honestly, I thought our Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets were very competitive,” Rosenqvist said. “We probably would have been competitive with any given start number. I’m feeling really good for tomorrow to give it another go. Personally, my run was kind of hindered by a small issue that took some speed out of the third and fourth laps so I think we have more to give. But let’s bring it on tomorrow and try to get into the Top Six.”
It’s just that too, they have to go again on Sunday. Maybe even twice if they make it out of the Fast 12 and into the Fast 6. That’s something the third car won’t be doing in Juan Pablo Montoya. He was slated to go out 9th but his No. 6 Dallara-Chevrolet failed technical inspection which meant he had to wait until everyone had already gone through once.
“Our day was eventful,” Montoya said. W”e had an issue in the morning during our technical inspection, due to a broken component on the car, that led to us losing our really good qualifying draw. When we finally managed to run, it was the worst conditions of the day. It was tough out there. We had no grip. We were set up to run in cool conditions and we didn’t have that. We tried to go back out late, when we had a chance to improve a lot, and then the rain came, so our luck for the day didn’t improve. I’ve won from the back here, so I’m not too worried about it. It would have been nice to qualify better because these Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets have been very quick.”