Will Power smacks the wall on final lap of qualifying but still makes Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power survived a smack with the wall Sunday to make the field for the 105th Indy 500 after a pressure-packed Last Row Shootout qualifying

The Team Penske driver, who won at the Brickyard in 2018, left a large black tire mark on the SAFER barrier at the exit of Turn 2 with his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet as he tried to squeeze every ounce of speed from the last of his four laps around the 2.5-mile oval. Despite his car being out of alignment from the impact, Power never lifted off the throttle through the final two turns at more than 225 mph.

“Very nerve-wracking,” Power told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider about the 228.876 mph qualifying run that earned him the 32nd starting spot. “The run halfway through started going loose and having little moments everywhere. Just held onto it out of 2, kind of walked it all the way to the wall and hit the wall and just took a chance of holding it wide open in 3/4 and just hoping the rear toe wasn’t too bent.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Scott Dixon captures fourth Indy 500 pole position

INDY 500 INFO: Start times, schedules, TV, stats, historical details about the race

“So yeah, man, that’s just as loose as you want to get it. I can’t thank Verizon and Chevy enough for sticking with me after all these years. I’ve been with them a long time. So stoked to get in the race for those guys and for all the team. Because the team really has put a massive amount of effort into this race and just over the moon. Big relief honestly more than anything to get in the race.”

Sage Karam went out first and turned the fastest lap of the session (229.156) to earn the 31st starting spot, and Simona De Silvestro, driving for the Penske-affiliated Paretta Autosport, went after Power to capture the final spot at 227.892 mph as the 33-car field was filled.

RC Enerson and Charlie Kimball were eliminated after neither could muster enough speed over the course of multiple attempts to bump the first three drivers who posted qualifying times.

This will mark the first IndyCar race for Paretta Autosport, which was formed this season as part of the Race for Equality & Change program announced by IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (both owned by Roger Penske) last July.

Simona De Silvestro celebrates with a teammate after claiming the last spot on the starting grid of the 105th Indy 500 (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

Team Penske provides the team with staff, technical support and cars. Paretta Autosport is comprised primarily of women in competition, operations, logistics, marketing/PR and the pit crew.

“I feel like we climbed a mountain together,” team owner Beth Paretta told NBC Sports reporter Kevin Lee. “Hats off to all of these women and also all these men from Team Penske who have been coaching our women on this team and just working and digging in and spent all this week but especially yesterday and today to get Simona on the grid. I couldn’t be happier, and I can’t wait to get to next week.”

In making her first Indy 500 start since 2015, De Silvestro ensures the Indy 500 will have a woman in the field after the 2020 race lacked a female driver for the first time in 20 years.

“It was definitely hard, but I really had faith in the team,” said De Silvestro, who received a hug from Power before she congratulated Kimball. “Everyone worked so hard. I’ve been putting more pressure on me just to get it done because everyone puts so much work. Super happy to be in, sorry for Charlie that we bumped him out, but hopefully next time it won’t be nerve-wracking

“The girls that are working on the car, they were on it. I hope that it inspires a lot of young girls to be whoever they want to be. If I look at my career, I’m super proud to be part of this.”

Power avoided becoming the first Penske driver to miss the Indy 500 since 1995. The team has won a record 18 Indy 500s but struggled for speed this weekend in qualifying with its four Chevrolets.

For the second consecutive year, Penske failed to place a car in the Fast Nine for Indy 500 pole qualifying. Its fastest driver Saturday was rookie Scott McLaughlin in 17th, followed by two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden in 21st  and Simon Pagenaud (who won the 2019 Indy 500 from the pole position) in 26th.

Power said he knew while approaching the SAFER barrier at roughly 230 mph that he had to hold down the accelerator.

“I’m sure there’s a few little shaky throttle nervous lifts as I hit the wall but man, this place throws everything at you,” Power said. “To get in the race is an amazing feeling and an amazing place. So now we can focus forward.

“It’s a more nervous feeling than going for pole. Really you had one run at it, then your engine’s hot and you don’t really have another shot. Definitely lose a little bit of sleep over that one just knowing you’ve got to execute.”

Charlie Kimball is consoled by an AJ Foyt Racing team member after failing to qualify (Chris Owens/IndyCar).


Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway