Day 1, Indy 500 quals: Spencer Pigot fastest; Alonso, Hinchcliffe outside
It was a wild Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with long-shot entries locking themselves into the field while fan favorites Fernando Alonso and James Hinchcliffe remain in danger of being bumped.
Spencer Pigot set the fastest lap of the day with a four-lap average of 230.083 mph that puts him on the provisional pole going into Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout. However, rain is forecast for tomorrow.
Should qualifying go on as planned, Pigot will join Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter, Alexander Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais in the session to set the first three rows of the Indianapolis 500 starting grid.
However, INDYCAR officials have stated that finalizing the 33-car starting grid will take priority over Fast Nine qualifying, meaning Pigot’s fast four laps on Saturday may have been the run for the pole.
Sunday’s Last Row Shootout will feature two notable names who were not expected to be in trouble when Indianapolis 500 practice began on Tuesday.
Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, who led 27 laps in his debut Indy 500 in 2017, has been slow all week, and spent Sunday afternoon making five qualifying attempts to try and post a fast enough average to lock his No. 66 McLaren Racing entry into the field.
Alonso did make it into the top 30 with his fifth and final attempt, but JR Hildebrand bumped him with minutes remaining in Day 1, when he made a four-lap average run of 227.908 mph (qualified 21st).
James Hinchcliffe is also facing a tense Sunday as he tries to avoid missing the Indy 500 for the second straight year. After wrecking his primary car earlier today, he was unable to get his backup car into the field.
Sage Karam, Patricio O’Ward, Max Chilton and Kyle Kaiser are also on the outside looking in.