After making run at Indy 500 pole, Alonso to start 5th

22 May 2017, 06:40 | Kristine Mills

Today's venture may have been his first qualifying attempt on an oval racetrack, but it wasn't a completely new experience. "I think the whole team was working on my vehicle". So I said, "Let's try for six" and he got 60. We're happy with our time and we're pleased with the laps we ran.

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will start fifth in his Indianapolis 500 debut next weekend.

"It gets stressful, it gets hard, tricky", Alonso said. So we see tomorrow what the conditions exactly are at the time we are running, and we will decide on which level of downforce. "But at the same time, huge adrenaline when you cross the line".

That is because the set-up of the cars is changed significantly between qualifying and race to ensure drivers can run consistently in heavy traffic during a 500-mile race that is usually punctuated by several "caution" periods in which drivers are restricted to reduced speeds behind a pace auto. "He was still very fast today".

Engineers from Andretti's other five entries are helping to work on Alonso's auto so it is ready for qualifying, with the team saying it is "just fast work and team effort". You'll hear commentators talk more about the average speed of those four laps, expressed in miles per hour.

Rossi won the Indy 500 from 11th on the grid a year ago, an illustration of the fact that qualifying positions are not of great importance in predicting race form at the so-called "Brickyard".

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Ed Jones stood out as one of the highlights of the first segment of qualifying earlier in the day, with the rookie only just missing out on a spot in the "Fast 9 Shootout" after Saturday qualifying.

The crowd roared each time the speed went up on the videoboards and when Dixon pulled back into pit lane after his 10-mile ride, everyone knew the nine-car pole shootout was over.

The 40-year-old still posted an average speed of 231.365 miles per hour, good for fourth.

Qualifying was marred by a frightening crash that sent Sebastien Bourdais to the hospital complaining of pain in his right leg. Bourdais had completed the fastest two laps of qualifying until the incident on the third lap. Its cars will start ninth (Will Power), 18th (Juan Pablo Montoya), 19th (Helio Castroneves), 22nd (Josef Newgarden) and 23rd (Simon Pagenaud) in the 33-car field.

Bourdais was scheduled to undergo surgery on the pelvis tonight. Television coverage of the qualifying will begin at 4 p.m. ET, with ABC broadcasting on television in the United States.

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