Team Penske dominate Indy 500 Qualifying with VeeKay serving up a dramatic finish

Team Penske drivers Will Power, Scott McLaughlin, and Josef Newgarden dominated the first day of qualifying for the 108th Indianapolis 500


Team Penske continued its march toward the IndyCar 2024 Indy 500 on Saturday during the first day of Qualifying, capturing the top three spots among the 12 drivers who will compete for pole position on Sunday.

Two-time IndyCar champion and 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power turned the fastest four-lap average run, 233.758 mph, in the No.12 Penske Chevrolet. Fellow two-time series champion and defending race winner Josef Newgarden was second at 233.332 mph in the No.2 car, while Scott McLaughlin was third at 233.293 mph in the No.3 car.

“It was a good, smooth run,” Power said. “We got an early draw, which helps. We would have liked to have run in the heat, but [team owner] Roger [Penske] didn’t want us to go out. I think [Alexander] Rossi is the one who could break up the all-Penske front row, but I think one of us [Team Penske] will get the pole. We put a lot of work in. All the cars are about the same speed.”

If the Penske trio can advance from Top 12 Qualifying and hold the top three spots at the end of Fast Six qualifying Sunday afternoon, it will be just the second front-row sweep by one team in Indianapolis 500 history. Team Penske first achieved the feat in 1988 with pole sitter Rick Mears, No.2 qualifier Danny Sullivan, and No.3 qualifier Al Unser.

Top 12 Qualifying takes place from 3:05-4:05 p.m. ET Sunday and will whittle the field to the Fast Six that will compete for the P1 Award from 5:25-5:55 p.m.

In between those sessions, 2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Andretti Global, Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, plus Katherine Legge and rookie Nolan Siegel of Dale Coyne Racing will compete for the three final spots in the 33-car starting field in Last Chance Qualifying from 4:15-5:15 p.m.

The Team Penske dominance under sunny skies came as little surprise. Newgarden, McLaughlin, and Power were the three fastest drivers, respectively, during qualifying simulations on Fast Friday.

All three Penske drivers benefited from favourable positions in the qualifying draw and made their sole four-lap qualifying attempts in the first hour of the six-hour, 50-minute session, when track and air temperatures were at their coolest.

Kyle Larsen during 2024 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying | Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski
Kyle Larsen during 2024 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying | Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

McLaren joined Penske in the Top 12

Joining the Penske trio in the Top 12 Qualifying session on Sunday are 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi of McLaren, Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Global, rookie and 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson of McLaren/Rick Hendrick, Felix Rosenqvist of Meyer Shank Racing and Santino Ferrucci of AJ Foyt Racing. 

Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is also in the Top 12, as well as Pato O’Ward of McLaren, Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Team Penske and McLaren will each feature three drivers in the Top 12 Qualifying session. Eight teams overall are represented in the Top 12.

A dramatic day for VeeKay

Rinus VeeKay during Indy 500 Qualifying | Penske Entertainment: James Black
Rinus VeeKay during Indy 500 Qualifying | Penske Entertainment: James Black

VeeKay made a dramatic run into the Top 12 on the penultimate qualifying attempt of the day in the No.21 Chevrolet. The run capped a mad thrash for the Ed Carpenter Racing team to rebuild the car after VeeKay crashed in Turn 3 at 11:14 a.m. on just the fourth overall attempt of the day.

He then made one waved-off attempt and a successful attempt of 231.166 mph in the mid-afternoon that put him toward the back of the Top 30 before his nerve-wracking final run.

The last-gasp run kept alive VeeKay’s chances of qualifying in the top four for each of his five Indy 500 starts. He just missed the pole last year to qualify second in his career-best Indy start.

“Roller coaster times three,” VeeKay said. “Started the day out with the biggest heartbreak there is. We were on the edge of the last row, and then the team, this is magic right here. 

“They made it happen. The car felt awesome. This crew, they deserve a thousand dinners and a lot of beer.”

Graham Rahal was able to enter the 2.5-mile oval just before the clock struck 5:50 p.m. to end Qualifying, but he waved off the run after just one lap due to lack of speed in his No.15 Honda. It will be the second straight year in the Last Chance Qualifying session for Rahal, who failed to qualify for last year’s race but competed as a substitute for the injured Stefan Wilson.

There were 74 qualifying attempts in a frantic day in which air temperatures reached the low 80s, topped in Indianapolis 500 history only by the 84 attempts on the first day last year.

As Sunday approaches, the spotlight will remain on Team Penske to see if they can secure the historic front-row sweep and continue their dominance in the 2024 Indianapolis 500. The battle for pole promises to be an intense showdown, with a field of determined drivers ready to challenge the Penske trio.

2024 Indy 500 Saturday Qualifying Results

Results of qualifying Saturday for the 108th Indianapolis 500 event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Top 12 Qualifiers

PosDriverTeamEngineSpeed (mph)
1Will PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet233.758
2Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevrolet233.332
3Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevrolet233.293
4Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet233.069
5Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda232.764
6Kyle LarsonMcLaren/Rick HendrickChevrolet232.563
7Felix RosenqvistMeyer Shank RacingHonda232.547
8Santino FerrucciAJ Foyt RacingChevrolet232.496
9Takuma SatoRLL RacingHonda232.473
10Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet232.434
11Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet232.419
12Ryan Hunter-ReayDreyer & Reinbold RacingChevrolet232.385

Positons 13-30 with set Indy 500 grid positions

PosDriverTeamEngineSpeed (mph)
13Colton HertaAndrettiHonda232.316
14Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda232.306
15Callum IlottJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet232.230
16Marcus ArmstrongChip Ganassi RacingHonda232.183
17Ed CarpenterEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet232.017
18Kyffin SimpsonChip Ganassi RacingHonda231.948
19Marco AndrettiAndrettiHonda231.890
20Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank RacingHonda231.871
21Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda231.851
22Agustin CanapinoJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet231.847
23Sting Ray RobbDale Coyne RacingChevrolet231.826
24Christian RasmussenDreyer & Reinbold RacingChevrolet231.682
25Tom BlomqvistMeyer Shank RacingHonda231.578
26Romain GrosjeanAndrettiChevrolet231.514
27Linus LundqvistChip Ganassi RacingHonda231.506
28Christian LundgaardRLL RacingHonda231.465
29Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet231.243
30Pietro FittipaldiDale Coyne RacingHonda231.100
John Smith
John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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