Day 1 Indy 500 qualifying results: Ganassi overcomes nerves, puts four cars in Fast Nine

Indy 500 qualifying Ganassi
Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images

INDIANAPOLIS — Even on days when they seem totally in control of dominating Indy 500 qualifying, the championship teammates at Chip Ganassi Racing still get nervous.

For Scott Dixon, who earned the provisional pole for the Fast Nine on his first attempt at four laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Tony Kanaan, who qualified third, the jitters actually might be worse than ever.

“T.K. and I were actually getting changed before we came out to qualifying,” said Dixon, the six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion. “He’s like, ‘Hey, man, do you still get nervous?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m really nervous.’ ”

“I couldn’t put my socks on,” said Kanaan, the 2004 champion and oldest driver in the field at 46.

INDY 500 QUALIFYING ON NBCHow to watch Sunday’s sessions

DAY 1 QUALIFYING RESULTSSpeeds from the opening session at IMS

“I was shaking to put my socks on,” said Dixon, 40, who hadn’t been first in the Indy 500 qualifying order in 18 previous starts. “Going first, normally the Friday I felt like I’ve done prep, kind of understand where it’s going to go. But we’ve made so many changes overnight, then also hadn’t really had any clean runs yesterday afternoon. Our first run was the only run that we did. We were kind of downforced up.

“It’s a big deal, right? You’re rolling out, the first time you go into turn one at 240 miles an hour, you’re hoping you’re going to come out the other side in one piece.”

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan taps a crew member on the head during qualifying for the 105th Indy 500 (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images).

Teammates Alex Palou (seventh) and Marcus Ericsson (ninth) made it a big day for Honda, which will have seven drivers competing for the pole position Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock Premium) with Colton Herta (second) and Helio Castroneves (sixth) also eligible.

Chevy will be represented by the Ed Carpenter Racing duo of Rinus VeeKay (fifth) and Carpenter (fourth), whose team has a Fast Nine qualifier for the sixth consecutive year.

Though Ganassi will have the most opportunities (including Dixon taking a shot at his fourth Indy 500 pole), Palou will be making his attempt in a repaired No. 10 Dallara-Honda after smacking the Turn 2 wall midway through qualifying.

Palou took the blame for the crash, exceeding the limits of the car’s handling after convincing the team to let him take a chance at improving his speed on a slick 2.5-mile oval.

“The team was on the fence of going out now with the weather so I was pushing them like ‘Hey, guys, we have a fast car, we can go,’ ” Palou said.

“So I’m feeling a bit stupid for not listening to the team and then really sorry for all the work they put in. It’s not that they put in work two weeks ago, they started building this car in the preseason, from the first time I walked into the shop. So I’m really sorry that instead of looking at the times, they are working on the car.

PROBLEMS FOR PENSKE: IndyCar powerhouse struggles on Day 1

“It’s not fun, it’s racing but it’s our job and I will push as much as I did before and this is just a mistake but at the speedway you pay really hard.”

Palou at least caught the good fortune of avoiding a backup car and also will have his Ganassi teammates to help get him up to speed.

“Obviously he’s taking it very hard on himself,” Kanaan said. “We tried to say, Look, man, you’re in (the race. They’re going to fix the car. The car is going to be perfect. Don’t worry about it.’ I think he’s OK now.”

Results of Day 1 qualifying for the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (position, car number, driver, manufacturer, time and speed in parentheses):

1. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 2:35.2874 (231.828 mph)
2. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 2:35.4081 (231.648)
3. (48) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 2:35.4140 (231.639)
4. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 2:35.4294 (231.616)
5. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 2:35.5192 (231.483)
6. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 2:35.7334 (231.164)
7. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 2:35.7461 (231.145)
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 2:35.7501 (231.139)
9. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 2:35.7739 (231.104)
10. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 2:35.8132 (231.046)
11. (18) Ed Jones, Honda, 2:35.8148 (231.044)
12. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 2:35.9360 (230.864)
13. (51) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 2:35.9481 (230.846)
14. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 2:36.0168 (230.744)
15. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 2:36.0417 (230.708)
16. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 2:36.1395 (230.563)
17. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 2:36.1435 (230.557)
18. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 2:36.1680 (230.521)
19. (47) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 2:36.2314 (230.427)
20. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 2:36.3922 (230.191)
21. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 2:36.4735 (230.071)
22. (1) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 2:36.5354 (229.980)
23. (45) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 2:36.5563 (229.949)
24. (86) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 2:36.5961 (229.891)
25. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 2:36.6089 (229.872)
26. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 2:36.6732 (229.778)
27. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 2:36.6964 (229.744)
28. (25) Stefan Wilson, Honda, 2:36.7166 (229.714)
29. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 2:36.9195 (229.417)
30. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 2:37.6717 (228.323)

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)