The legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway has seen many things across the decades, but today it saw something new – Britain’s Pippa Mann became the first woman to earn pole position there in 101 years of racing.
Having run second in testing and fifth in practice, Mann nailed a two-lap average speed of 187.989 mph on the 2.5 mile course in qualifying to beat team-mate and two-time Firestone Freedom 100 winner Wade Cunningham to the top spot.
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet, I’m at a loss for words,” said Mann. “If I’m still P1 at the end [of the race], I don’t know what I’ll do. All I can do is give a huge thank you to all of my guys and everybody on the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team.”
The 26-year-old from Ipswich said: “These guys gave me an awesome car – I just went out there and did my best to pedal it.
“I have a car that I can drive inside, I have a car I can drive outside, I have a car that likes the dirty air, I have a car that likes to be out front.”
“This afternoon, when it got hot, we went to work on speed. We found some things that really helped – that made my life more difficult but made the car quicker. For this afternoon, we decided to rein it in a little bit so it would come home all in one piece. Whatever they reined in, they did it perfectly.
“The balance was even better [in qualifying] than it was in traffic. We’ll go back to that car [setup] we had this morning, but a couple of tweaks we found that we really like might stay.”
In the second row, behind Mann and Cunningham, are Andretti Autosport team-mates Charlie Kimball and Martin Plowman – Mann’s colleague last year at Panther Racing.
Of the other British drivers, Dan Clarke will start 10th and Stefan Wilson 13th. James Winslow is not entered for the race, as Cunningham has his #77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.