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Ganassi and McLaren set for “amazing” Indy 500 pole fight

Pole position for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 looks set to be a straight fight between Arrow McLaren and Chip Ganassi Racing.

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Based on the evidence of the opening day of qualifying, both teams have the potential to take the top spot with multiple drivers – as engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda also go head-to-head.

Although the Chevrolet-powered McLaren scored a 1-2 on Saturday, with Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi, Ganassi’s Alex Palou set his third-quickest run at one of the warmest times of the day.

Like McLaren, Ganassi has all four of its cars in the Fast 12 session, from which drivers can transfer to the Firestone Fast Six shootout for pole.

“We feel confident,” said Palou. “That doesn't mean that we feel like it's going to be easy to get into the Fast Six or fight for pole. But we feel confident that we have speed.

“It's just going to take four amazing laps, no mistakes, try and get a consistent third and fourth [lap]. I have confidence in my car, but at the same time I'm not underestimating anybody on the Fast 12.

“It's great to have four cars again in the Fast 12. I think it's pretty tough to do it, especially nowadays, how tight the field is.”

When asked if he’ll make set-up tweaks to his Dallara-Honda, Palou added: “Yeah, we'll make a couple of changes. Motorsport is about improving. Feels like it's limitless. We can go the other way, but we'll keep trying.”

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

McLaren, which is running three special liveries at Indy to honour its successes in the Triple Crown, has built on the speed it showed last year, and done so with an extra car from Tony Kanaan, who also made the Fast 12 after a late run on Saturday that put him inside the top-six times.

“We started the day a little bit more conservative,” reported Kanaan. “We just kept digging. I need to thank definitely my team-mates for it. They're all in. They kept supporting me, saying ‘you got to do it again’.

“We finally on the last run nailed it. Great team effort. It was nice. It was unexpected.”

Rosenqvist will go into today’s sessions as favourite after his four-lap average of almost 234mph on Saturday.

“I think the team is really maturing,” he explained. “We're still a fairly new team, as the current structure. But you really feel a difference.

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet qualification photo

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet qualification photo

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

“There's a lot of young guys. When I joined the team, a lot of young guys on the team are now becoming pretty experienced, being up front for many years, still not a championship, but we're up there lurking all the time now.

“You really feel that the confidence is growing in the team, I think both on the engineering side, driving side.

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“I feel like we're able to attack. When we have tough days, we're pretty good at bouncing back quickly which normally puts us in the mix. To do it four cars as well. I think already on the #7 car this year with Alex [Rossi], it's really impressive with what they've done because it's pretty much a completely new group.

“Then you have Tony's car on top of that. I think a couple of months ago we were like, what people are we going to use for running these cars? Here we are in the top eight, all of us. It's really remarkable.

“It feels not effortless, but it feels like we're vibing.”

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