Indy 500 Qualifying 2022: Top Storylines to Track and Final Pole Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 22, 2022

Rinus VeeKay, of The Netherlands, drives through the first turn during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The fastest 12 drivers from Indianapolis 500 qualifying return to the track on Sunday to fight for the pole position.

Rinus VeeKay dropped the best lap time during Saturday's session, which locked in the 13th through 33rd positions on the starting grid for next Sunday's race. 

VeeKay, Pato O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist produced the three best times, but there was a clear difference between VeeKay and the others. 

The Dutchman produced a lap time that was two-hundredths of a second faster than O'Ward and his speed was 0.6 miles per hour faster than the second-place driver. 

The spotlight will be on VeeKay during Sunday's fight for the pole, but he will not be the only driver garnering attention.

Jimmie Johnson drove to sixth place during his first qualifying session for the Indy 500. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion may be able to make a push for the front row, or even the pole, with a strong performance on Sunday.


Top Storylines to Watch

Can Rinus VeeKay Remain Faster Than Everyone Else? 

Rinus VeeKay set a high bar that no one could reach during Saturday's qualification session.

VeeKay turned in a lap time of 38.3465 seconds, and he clocked in at a speed of 233.655 miles per hour. 

The Dutchman was by far the fastest in the 44-driver qualifying session on Saturday. The field of 33 was determined by the times and speeds in that session. The 12 fastest drivers advanced to Sunday's hunt for the pole. 

The difference between VeeKay and the other drivers may not seem significant to some, but a gap of two-hundredths of a second in lap time is an exception if he keeps that up. 

The drivers that qualified in second through seventh place were separated by less than a second in time. The difference in speed was even closer, as second through 10th place were apart by less than one mile per hour. 

VeeKay is the driver to beat during Sunday's session, and if he comes away with the pole, he should go into next Sunday's race as the favorite. 


Jimmie Johnson's Quest For Pole

Jimmie Johnson turned in a fantastic run during his first Indy 500 qualifying session.

The former NASCAR Cup Series champion sits sixth after Saturday's results. That would be a phenomenal result for a driver with one top 10 finish in five IndyCar Series starts this season. 

Johnson was 43-thousandths of a second off a 38.5-second lap time, which was recorded by the fastest five drivers on Saturday. 

Johnson's speed matched a majority of the pole contenders. He had a top speed of 232.398 miles per hour. Felix Rosenqvist's third-place speed was 232.775 miles per hour. 

Starting on one of the front four rows is a major accomplishment for Johnson, but he likely wants more given his strong performance on Saturday. 

Johnson may not be able to match VeeKay's overall speed, but he is not too far off of Rosenqvist's numbers and a top-three starting spot is not out of the question.



1. Rinus VeeKay

2. Felix Rosenqvist

3. Pato O'Ward

4. Tony Kanaan

5. Jimmie Johnson

6. Alex Palou

7. Ed Carpenter

8. Scott Dixon

9. Will Power

10. Takuma Sato

11. Marcus Ericsson

12. Romain Grosjean