By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Mikhail Aleshin made more qualifying attempts than anybody during qualifying for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, but it was his final attempt that payed dividends for his team.
Aleshin’s first qualifying attempt solidly placed him in the top 10 with a 229.190 mph 4 lap average. Nearly two and a half hours later, Aleshin elected to go back out on track in order to give the Fast Nine another shot. Inching close to the wall each lap, the Russian managed to bump his way into the fast nine with a 4-lap average of 229.568.
The run bumped Marco Andretti out of the Fast Nine, who then waited nearly an hour to try to bump his way back into the Fast Nine.
Andretti’s attempt at 6:52 pm bumped out Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay only for a moment as Hunter-Reay was right behind Andretti in the qualifying line. Hunter-Reay forced his way back into the fast nine but also put teammate Alexander Rossi on the bubble.
Just as the gun signaling the end of the day was about to sound, Aleshin suddenly drove onto the track for the final run of the day for his third qualifying attempt. With the wind blowing slow as it had all day, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Aleshin. He set a four lap average of 230.209 mph, which was not good enough to unseat James Hinchcliffe from the top spot, but he managed to keep himself in the Fast Nine.
“It was definitely; the car was easier to handle this time (on the last run),” said Aleshin. “I’m happy; I’m happy for all the team. I’m happy two cars are in the top nine. I think it shows our potential, and it shows that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is up there. It’s been a really long day working with the team. It’s good all the team was working together; all three drivers. We’re very close. We’re sharing lots of different information, and I think we can see as a result how much we improved.”
Aleshin’s dramatic day of qualifying made it 6 Hondas in the top nine as well as two Schmidt Peterson cars in the top nine.
Image: Walter Kuhn/IMS