The word of the day was weather, as the August heat played a pivotal role in Saturday qualifying for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Track temperatures rose dramatically as the day went on, making it difficult for drivers to move up the time sheets and try to break into the Fast Nine for a shot at the coveted pole.
Pato O’Ward went out first for Arrow McLaren SP, making a solid run that had him provisionally sixth but the young Mexican driver watched his time get shuffled down by the drivers to follow.
Fernando Alonso went next for the team, having bounced back from an incident late in Wednesday’s practice that required significant repairs to the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Alonso put forward a consistent run but found himself toward the bottom of the scoring pilon. As the day went on, track conditions didn’t seem to improve, the Spainiard chose to not make another run and to focus on his race car. He will start the Indy 500 from the 26th position.
Oliver Askew went last for AMSP, driving the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet for everything it had in his first-ever Indy 500 qualifying. The rookie’s solid effort put him in 21st, a position he tried to improve later in the afternoon but the track was just to hot and his position stayed the same.
O’Ward had more success on his late run, taking advantages of some timely clouds that cooled the track late in the session. He was able to improve on his earlier run, moving up four spots and will start the race from 15th. O’Ward was also the third-fastest Chevrolet of the day, behind only Rinus Veekay and Josef Newgarden.
The starting spots are set but Arrow McLaren SP will return to the track tomorrow for practice, in antipcation of the greatest spectacle in racing on August 23rd.
Find the results of qualifying, and hear from Arrow McLaren SP drivers and management, below:
Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Four-Lap Average: 230.213
Starting Position: 15th
“I think it was positive toward the end of the day. I think we started the day a little confused based on where we had ran yesterday. We fixed it for the afternoon. We improved a few spots, but didn’t have enough for the Fast Nine. Every time you improve a few positions, it is positive. We should look back and be happy with our last run because of the heat. We will start working on the race car now. Excited to see what Arrow McLaren SP and Chevrolet can do next week.”
Oliver Askew, No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Four-Lap Average: 229.760
Starting Position: 21st
“My first qualifying at the Indianapolis 500 was pretty exciting. First run ended up being our quickest, unfortunately, we weren’t able to go quicker. It looks like we are stuck in 21st right now. Probably the most frightening four laps of my life, but that’s what Indy 500 qualifying is all about. Looking forward to putting the race setup back on, because I feel like Arrow McLaren SP have a much more competitive package in race trim. Looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Fernando Alonso, No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet
Four-Lap Average: 228.768
Starting Position: 26th
“The speed was not there yesterday in practice and today in qualifying. We know that so we just wanted to put in a solid run in for qualifying with no mistakes and execute the best we could. I think we achieved that and I’m happy with that. The No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP car was feeling great today. I think we have a good race car because the first few days we were on the competitive side. The starting place for the race is not changing our hopes for next Sunday. All our focus now is on the race. This place offers a lot of possibilities even for the people starting at the back and we will be looking to take that possibility next week.”
Taylor Kiel, Managing Director, Arrow McLaren SP
“It was a tough day. We battled conditions all day. We didn’t quite nail it this morning when the conditions were right, so we were on the back foot all day long. We came out swinging in the end. Gave it one more go and it worked out for Pato. He gained a few positions, but not so much for Oliver. Our focus all week has been on the race car, and we feel really good about it. Now it is time to focus on racing and winning the Indianapolis 500. That’s the ultimate prize.”
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director, McLaren Racing
“Although we are not at the sharp end of the field, I think as a team we can be reasonably satisfied with our performance today. Pato managed to improve a little bit in his second run even though the improvement in his speed was quite small, he managed to improve to make up quite a few positions. In a way we put qualifying behind us and started focusing on the race as that is the most important part of this whole event. I’d like to thank the whole team as there has been a lot of effort getting us to where we are through a very intense four days. A lot of work by the mechanics and engineers, so I want to take the opportunity to thank them for their hard work and we look forward to next Sunday.”
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