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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing had its back to the wall on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
For driver Graham Rahal, it was a worst-case scenario.
With three of its four drivers—Rahal, Jack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard—on the outside looking in after 30 cars qualified on Saturday for this year's Indianapolis 500, the team knew there was a chance one of its drivers wouldn't make the field during Last Chance Qualifying on Sunday. The only other driver seeking on of the three available qualifying spots left on the grid was Dale Coyne Racing IndyCar rookie Sting Ray Robb.
As it turned out, Harvey bumped Rahal from the field on his third qualifying run as time in the session expired to grab the final spot in the 33-car field. The bump ends Rahal's streak of qualifying for the Indy 500 at 15.
Meanwhile, Alex Palou earned the pole with a four-lap average speed of 234.271 mph in a Fast Six qualifying session on Sunday. Rinus Veekay will start the 500 second (234.211). Felix Rosenqvist qualified third.
The average speed for the 33-car field is 232.184, shattering the record of 231.023 set last year to make this the fastest field in Indy 500 history.
I knew from the start we were in trouble," said Rahal. "This place, it doesn't come easy, and it doesn't just happen, and we weren't good enough. We were the slowest of our cars on pure pace all week."
Harvey qualified for the 500 for the seventh time in his career. His best finish was ninth for Meyer-Shank Racing in 2020.
“I just went as fast as I could the whole qualifying session," Harvey said. "There's nothing extra that I feel like I did. The team had some good communication about where we were losing speed and why we were losing speed; things like that.
"Maybe on the last run I was even more ‘Johnny on the spot’ with some of the small changes in the car. It's just an amazing-awful moment. I'm so happy that we made the race. That's what this whole thing is about. Why do you lay it all out on the line? You lay it on the line because it’s the Indy 500. This means the world to everybody."
Lundgaard will start 31st, Robb 32nd and Harvey 33rd. Rahal is the only driver who attempted to qualify for this year's race and missed the field.
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) May 21, 2023
"At the end of the day, it is what it is," Rahal said. "I'm proud of these guys. I think everybody has tried exceptionally hard the last couple of days. We came up short. This place, you have to earn it. It's not handed out. It's not given. It's not a guarantee. We came up short. I appreciate all of the support.
"I think people have known the struggle we were in the last few days. The outpouring of support from the other drivers too, we really appreciate it.”