Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Marco Andretti has set the pace the past two days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and if he can extend that streak to three days, he will end up in the pole position for the Indy 500.
Andretti’s Honda topped the charts during Friday’s practice session and Saturday’s qualifying round. He will be joined by eight other competitors in the race for the pole Sunday. The first three rows for the August 23 event will also be determined.
The field of nine pole position hopefuls is dominated by Honda cars. Only one Chevrolet featured in the top nine speeds Saturday.
Indy 500 Qualifying Information
Date: Sunday, August 16
Start Time: 1:15 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports app or NBCSports.com.
It seems hard to imagine anyone will match Andretti’s pace based on the past 48 hours.
Even though he was one of the last drivers to hit the course Saturday, Andretti laid down the only lap under 38.8 seconds. The No. 98 car driver had the fastest time around the track at 38.7635 seconds on his first lap, and he hit 231.351 miles per hour for Saturday’s top speed.
Andretti revealed he was not sure whether his car would land the top spot, but he was confident in having a top-nine vehicle, per the Indianapolis Star‘s Nathan Brown.
“I wasn’t worried about it,” Andretti said. “I knew as long as I executed, we’d be a top-nine contender. But did I think P1 [was realistic]? I’m not sure about that, so it made me feel good. I think it’s something we can replicate [Sunday] and find a little bit we can capitalize on.”
Andretti’s closest competition for the pole may come from within his own team, as Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe respectively finished second, third and fourth Saturday.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is the only other team to have multiple drivers competing in the Fast Nine. Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato sit in eighth and ninth.
Scott Dixon, who has sat on the Indy 500 pole twice, looks like Andretti’s top competition from another team, as he had the fifth-fastest car Saturday. Rinus VeeKay is the lone Chevrolet representative, and Alex Palou resides in seventh place.
While a case could be made for another Andretti Autosport car to top the charts, Andretti has set a consistent pace at the top of the lap time and speed charts. Until another car eclipses what Andretti’s machine is capable of, it is hard to see anyone else starting first on the grid come the Indy 500.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. Statistics obtained from NBCSports.com.