What drivers are saying about Indy 500 qualifying


Qualifying for the Indy 500 is the fastest, most frenzied and sometimes the scariest 10 miles in sports.

And for the NTT IndyCar Series drivers who have survived the white-knuckle terror of 240 mph at the end of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the straightaways, it can be four laps that take 3 minutes but feel like three years.

Tim Layden interviewed several IndyCar stars for a story and video feature (which you can watch above or by clicking here) about qualifying for the 107th Indy 500 this weekend as drivers prepare to go fast, turn left and hang on around the 2.5-mile oval.

HOW TO WATCH INDY 500 QUALIFYING: Full weekend schedule, details

“I don’t think there’s anything like qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, just the intensity level,” said Scott Dixon, who is bidding to become the first driver to win three consecutive Indy 500 pole positions. “As an event, it’s something that everybody kind of puts a spotlight on.”

With 34 cars entered this year, at least one driver will suffer the disappointment of being bumped (which happened to a two-time Formula One champion in 2019).

“Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the most intense moment you can get in a race car,” defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson said. “To do like 230 mph average? Yeah, it’s mind-blowing. The intensity and the adrenaline you get from doing qualifying, it’s hard to get anywhere else.”

Here’s a selection of what several IndyCar driver told Layden about Indy 500 qualifying:

Dixon: “Personally as a driver, I think it’s the most intense, most stressful four laps of anything. You don’t really do practice in the morning, so the first laps are those four laps that you do on that day most of the time. And you’re going into Turn 1 almost 250 mph, and you’re hoping it’ll come out the other side. So the stress level is through the roof, especially on days where the weather conditions are tricky, but it’s super intense, but also super rewarding.

“We start qualifying preparation pretty much after the Indy 500 the previous year, and trying to make the most of it and how we can improve. Because you’re never looking for four or five or six big things. It’s hundreds of small details that maybe you saw another team do, or something that we think that we could do a little bit better, or the cooling process of the car.

“The goal is to win the race, but I think to win the pole and to lead the field of 33 is for me was an amazing achievement. I’ve been lucky enough to do it five times. … The feeling generally for me is a lot of butterflies, very nervous. There’s a lot on the line and you don’t want to crash the car, but you want to push it to the limits, and you want to make the most of that run you have. And especially in the first one because it may lock you into progressing further on. So for me, it’s super intense. The cars are fairly complicated now with weight jackers, and mixture settings, and roll bar settings, and a load of different things. So I think it’s just making sure that you know what you got to do, go in prepared, but you’re nervous as hell, man.”

Colton Herta: “Qualifying is such a hustle here. You’re holding onto the car for four laps at over 240 mph. It is probably some of the most difficult conditions that we are put in as drivers. And if your car isn’t perfect, it is the hardest thing to do in our sport. When the car is all good and dandy, it’s still one of the hardest things to do in our sport.

“It’s an amazing experience. It’s hard to describe what it’s like going that fast.”

Tony Kanaan: “It’s a very lonely moment. You’re part of the car, the car is part of you and you’re there to do one job, which is the four hardest, fastest laps. The most precise of your life. So, it’s a very unique moment, very special. It’s thrilling. It’s addicting. You want to do it all over again. Like right before qualifying, when you go through the line, if somebody will give you an option (that) ‘You can leave right now,’ you probably would because you’re nervous, and you don’t want to do it. But then once you start the engine and they send you out, you’re like, ‘All right, game on.’ That is addicting. I would qualify every day here if I could. The sensation of speed, how close you get to the wall, how low you get to below the white line and all the corners. It’s something that I’m not sure I’m doing a fair justice to try to explain to you guys.”

Simon Pagenaud: “Pole position day is something else. It raises your hair on your arms. You are in an arena, and everybody’s like lions, and when I talk about lions, I’m talking about the drivers. You’re out there to kill. You’re out there to go fast and only go as fast as you can do it and not really think about any consequence. Wind conditions don’t matter at that point. You cannot forget about anything else and you just focus on one goal, which is to be the fastest. It’s a thrilling exercise, but it’s a daring exercise. It’s like being a daredevil.

“To me, qualifying you go as hard as possible. I don’t think you ever lift. If you lift, you know you’re not going to be on the pole and it’s a failure. You want to start on the front because it’s Indianapolis and only first place matters here. Second doesn’t matter at all. So to me, when it comes to qualifying day, it’s about giving it everything, it’s a one-off. There’s nothing else that matters at that point. It’s staying full throttle. You know what you’ve got underneath you, you’ve got to trust it even if you don’t know and that’s when you just going to unplug the brain and just do it.

“Qualifying in Indy to me is it’s the most stressful moment of your life. It’s stressful but also enjoyable in many ways, but you enjoy it after you’ve done it, not during because it’s such a difficult exercise that you know you could crash at any moment. You could lose it, you know you can be a hero, but you can be a zero really easily. It’s just a very anxious, stressful, exciting, thrilling day.”

Alexander Rossi: “Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500 is one of the most extreme things that I think you’ll do in motorsports. And certainly, it’s the most difficult qualifying session that you could ever participate in because the first laps usually (are) pretty easy, the second lap still fairly easy, the third lap gets challenging, and the fourth lap is borderline impossible. Because if you’re easy flat for four laps, then you carry too much downforce and thus drag. If you’re lifting, you’re obviously not going to be competitive, so it’s finding that balance of how much you can get away with, and it really changes based on ambient conditions, wind, track temp, so it’s a very hard thing to get absolutely perfect.

“It’s hypercritical to get everything just right because at Indy, every small decision that you make has a compounding effect. And as soon as you make one small mistake in any of those laps, in any of those corners, it’s impossible to recover because it’s a momentum game, in a lot of respects. So that even plays a role in shifting. Every time you shift, you’re losing time. So you got to play that game of how much limiter is the right amount of limiter, and the team can’t tell you that live because the data doesn’t transfer that quickly. So you got to make that decision based on a gut instinct and a feel. So it’s a lot to think about in what ultimately, is three minutes, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

Motocross 2023: Results and points after season opener at Fox Raceway


It was not the first time it has been done, but a rider winning in his Motocross debut is rare as the results show Jett Lawrence swept the motos at Fox Raceway in Pala, California and took the early points lead.

Dylan Ferrandis may not be quite 100 percent yet, but he was good enough to finish on the podium at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence became the 16th rider to win in his Motocross debut and was the 10th rider to do so in the season opener, At 19, he wasn’t the youngest to perform the feat; Rick Johnson was 17 in 1982 when he won the lidlifter at Hangtown, the site of next week’s race, but Lawrence’s inaugural win bodes well. The last time a rider performed this feat, Dylan Ferrandis went on to win the 2021 Motocross championship as a rookie in 2021.

Ferrandis did not sweep the motos that season while Lawrence’s performance on Saturday was perfect. He paced both practice sessions, earned the holeshot in each race and finished first in both motos after leading every lap to score maximum points. Lawrence started the weekend needing 85 points to climb into 20th in the combined SuperMotocross standings for the 450 class. Earning 50 with his perfect Motocross results at Fox Raceway, he is nearly 60 percent of the way to his goal.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Results; Click here for 250 Results

Chase Sexton was second across the board. He qualified in the second position and finished 2-2 in his motos. In the first race, he was a relatively distant runner-up behind Lawrence, crossing the finish line a little more than 10 seconds ahead. He got a great start in Moto 2 and pushed Lawrence for the entire race, never getting further back than three seconds. He tried to pressure Lawrence into making a mistake, but both riders hardly put a wheel wrong and they finished within a second of one another.

Returning from a concussion suffered in the Houston Supercross race earlier this season and exacerbated at Daytona, Ferrandis finished third in both motos to take third overall. His most important task at hand this week was to avoid trouble and start the Motocross season healthy at Fox Raceway so he can begin to accumulate strong results and move up in SuperMotocross points.

Ferrandis entered this round 25th in the standings and left Pala in 19th. With that position, he has an automatic invitation to the feature starting grid in the SuperMotocross World Championship as long as he does not fall back.

Click here for 450 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb both ended the race with 34 points, but Plessinger had the tiebreaker with a better finish in the second race. Notably, both riders sustained injury sometime during the season, but Plessinger had an advantage by coming back a week sooner in Salt Lak City for the Supercross finale. He finished second in that race.

Webb was cleared late in the week by doctors after being on concussion protocol from a vicious strike to his helmet in a Nashville Supercross heat race late in the season. He made a beeline to the track to run the Motocross opener. After missing last year’s outdoor season, he wanted to make certain that did not happen again. He still has a solid opportunity to catch Sexton for the No. 1 overall seed in the SuperMotocross standings., but he will need to make up 78 points.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

For the first time in history, Pro Motocross results from Fox Raceway show brothers as winners on the same day.

Battling a rib injury suffered practicing earlier in the week, Hunter Lawrence got a poor start to Moto 1 and had to overcome his 10th-place standing at the end of Lap 1. He methodically worked his way toward the front but might have settled for a position off the podium if not for heavy traffic in the closing laps. Lawrence was able to get through the field quicker than Justin Cooper and Jo Shimoda to finish third.

Hunter Lawrence overcame sore ribs to score the overall 250 win at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence’s second moto was much stronger. He earned the holeshot and led all 15 laps of the race to win by a more than eight seconds.

Haiden Deegan didn’t feel any pressure heading into this round. No one expected much in his third Motocross National and he would have been happy with anything in the top five. At least that’s what he said in the post-race news conference. Deegan said similar things after finishing fourth in his first Supercross race this season. In a stacked field of 40 riders at Fox Raceway, “Danger Boy” finished sixth in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2 for the second-place finish overall.

Click here for 250 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan finished second overall. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire had an eventful weekend. He dominated Moto 1 and won by a healthy margin, making a statement about how he will race now that Jett Lawrence is no longer in the field. He was a victim of mayhem in Turn 2 of Moto 2, which forced him to the ground. Another crash on an uphill portion of the track later that same lap put him in 39th. Hampshire salvaged as many points as he could and finished 11th in the second race to stand on the final box of the podium.

Tom Vialle came within a lap of scoring his first career podium. He had the position based on a tiebreaker over Justin Cooper and Maximus Vohland until Hampshire passed two riders on the final lap and earned one point more than that threesome. Instead, Vialle settled for his first podium in an individual moto with a 7-3 in the two races. More accustomed to this style of racing, Vialle will be a factor in the coming rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Cooper finished with a 5-4 in the two motos to sweep the top five and take fourth-place overall. Cooper started five rounds in the 450 class in Supercross this season and none on a 250, so he is starting with zero points in the SuperMotocross seeding, but with runs like this it won’t take long to make up the 89 he needs to climb to 20th.

One of the best performances of the weekend was put in by Vohland. He finished second in Moto 1 and had to withstand pressure from Lawrence in the closing lap. A poor start of 16th in the second race forced him to play catchup and he could only climb to ninth at the checkers.

2023 Supercross Results

Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Sexton unseats Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s