Alexander Rossi Honda TAG Heuer

Rossi Qualifies on the Front Row for 101st Indy 500

Monday, May 22, 2017 11:42AM

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 21, 2017) – One of the most exciting non-race weekends in motorsports is qualifying weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. From the qualifying draw to the second-by-second weather changes, many different factors play into the lightning-fast speeds posted by some of the best race car drivers in the world.

Alexander Rossi, last year's rookie winner of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, was smack dab in the middle of the qualifying drama, finishing P3 and earning a spot in the illustrious front row of 33. 

"Great effort from the team," said Rossi. "Front row is good. You can win this race from anywhere, so it's a good place to be. No dirty air, and we'll just get the race off to a strong start and see where it goes."

All 33 entrants got one initial qualifying run Saturday, after a long rain delay thwarted the usual full afternoon of qualifying drama. The "Fast Nine" then competed Sunday in a 'shootout' format to determine their final positions on the grid. Rossi was fifth of nine to run, and able to surmise the risky wing adjustments needed to land on pole. After four on-edge laps, Rossi was P1 with an average speed of 231.487. Driving back to pit lane with fans screaming, Rossi watched the final four racers hit the track. 

In the end, Scott Dixon scored the pole with an average speed of 232.164 mph, the fastest average speed since 1996. Ed Carpenter snuck in for second with 231.664. 

"Scott (Dixon) had an amazing run, he deserves pole," said Rossi. "But we’re starting on the Front Row and that is great for the team. The NAPA boys did a great job today with the car. From here we focus on race running. We have Monday and Friday to run yet, and then we will see what we’ve got on Sunday.”

Four of six Andretti entries posted four-lap averages above 231 mph, with five of six Andretti cars qualifying in the top 10. Last year, Rossi qualified 11th. 

The focus now shifts to the race package and optimizing the car for the 500-mile race on Sunday, May 28. 

"I think this is the one race you go into where you actually don't have a plan," said Rossi. "You kind of just roll with it, and that's what we did last year...we had to adjust on the fly."

"I mean, this race because of the yellows, because of the length of it, and because how many times you can kind of move forward and backwards in positions, there's not really a set strategy. It's just about taking it one lap at a time and executing each of those laps."

"Sunday (Indy 500) was probably, even before the end result, was my favorite day of the year. From 6:00 a.m. to noon before the race even starts...is probably the coolest six hours of your life."

For a complete race-week schedule, CLICK HERE. Watch live practices on INDYCAR's YouTube channel or racecontrol.indycar.com.

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