Event Coverage: 2017 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying


The Penskes were running well during practice, but for qualifying, they fell flat. Four of the five Penske cars missed the Fast 9 on Friday. Josef Newgarden in a sister Penske only starts one position ahead of Pagenaud in 22nd. Newgarden and Pagenaud will have their work cut out for them starting this low in the pack.
Helio Castroneves placed his Shell sponsored Penske in 19th. Winning his 4th 500 from this position will be difficult, but if anyone can do it, it’ll be Helio. For the last few years, his livery has been a throwback to Rick Mears’ Pennzoil Special cars of the 1980s. This year, his livery is a throwback to the Miller High Life livery Danny Sullivan won that CART championship with in 1988. It’s a bit of a shame Miller couldn’t be bothered to sponsor the car since Miller…you know…sponsors Penske’s NASCAR team…
Juan Pablo Montoya is making his second, and likely final, IndyCar appearance in 2017. He is making the most of it by being the second best Penske in the field. Unfortunately, that means he is only starting 18th. Just like Helio, JPM will have his work cut out for him starting this low in the field.
Starting only one position ahead of Montoya is 2016 Indy pole sitter, James Hinchcliffe. Hinchcliffe and Honda have been very strong at Indy, so don’t count the Mayor of Hinchtown out just yet.  
Graham Rahal has had two terrible Indy qualifications in a row, starting 17th in 2015 because of a transmission stuck in 5th gear, and 26th a year ago. RLL Racing has slipped because of Chip Ganassi’s move to Honda, but a 14th place starting position is a good place to begin 500 miles for Graham.
The quickest car of the bottom 24 was Ryan Hunter-Reay. For whatever reason, his Andretti Autosport team missed the setup on Saturday and RHR was forced to fight for scraps when he should have been in the Top 9.  In fact his 231.442 MPH run on Sunday would have put him 4th if he had made it into the Top 9 Saturday.  RHR dominated the first half of the 2016 500 until he got hit by his teammate, Townsend Bell, and lost a lap. RHR has a quick car for sure and will be one to watch on race day.

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