James Davison was one of the stars of a pressure packed day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying as he earned 15th on the starting grid for IndyCar’s flagship race.
Running fairly early on Saturday afternoon when conditions were favourable, Davison produced a four-lap average of 228.273mph (367.370km/h) to secure a berth on the outside of the fifth row.
Because positions 10 to 30 are locked in under the new qualifying format introduced this year, the Australian will not have to make another attempt on Sunday.
Davison excitedly punched the air from the cockpit of his #33 Belardi Autosport Honda after his run and let out a scream over his in-car radio.
“Wooo! Great job, guys!” he exclaimed.
“That was awesome.”
Davison’s speed was about 1km/h slower than DCR team leader Sebastien Bourdais, who was the final driver to earn a spot in the Fast Nine session on Sunday that will determine pole position and the first three rows of the field.
Most importantly, Davison will not have to participate in Sunday’s Last Row Shootout when six drivers, including IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe and two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, will vie for the final three starting berths.
“I’m just so proud of my team,” remarked Davison.
“Coming to Indy, we all do the best with what we’ve got.
“But it’s about having fun as well, as stressful as it is.
“This is such a team sport, and when you’re a one-off team, you don’t have the chemistry and momentum that the full-season teams do.
“For my guys, as a group, to pull that off, I’m just so proud of them.
“I feel like I’m on cloud nine.”
Davison said he was even more proud of the achievement because as a part-time Indianapolis entry, there were no guarantees of making the field.
Top team owners Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti have recently led a call for guaranteed starts for full-time IndyCar Series competitors.
“That’s why I think entries shouldn’t be locked into the field.
“When you’re a one-off entry, the odds are stacked against you.
“If you get a group of guys who do a job like that, they deserve to make it in.”