Ana Beatriz says that ending up as top rookie on the Indianapolis 500 grid means much more to her than being the highest-placed woman in the starting lineup, despite the event's record female entry. Beatriz came out on top among both the women and the rookies in Saturday's Pole Day qualifying session, where she claimed 21st for her Dreyer & Reinbold team.
With Danica Patrick, Simona de Silvestro and Sarah Fisher also on the grid, this year's Indy 500 has a record four female starters. Milka Duno had hoped to make it five, but could not muster sufficient speed to qualify.
"I'm much happier to be the fastest rookie today than anything," she said. "With this being a last-minute deal with the Dreyer & Reinbold team, it's something fantastic.
"I wouldn't imagine being the fast female, but what really catches me here is being the fastest rookie. I didn't really have much time to practice at all, but it paid off."
Fellow female drivers de Silvestro (HVM) and Patrick (Andretti Autosport) will start right behind Beatriz in 22nd and 23rd. Conquest's Bertrand Baguette is the next best among the rookies in 24th.
Indy Lights race winner Beatriz also contested the season opener in Brazil with Dreyer & Reinbold, and hoped to find the funding to compete in more races, but has so far only managed to get a program together for the Indy 500. She admitted that things had gone better than expected so far, and said she will now focus on turning her qualifying pace into a good finish.
"I'm thrilled to be in the field for the Indy 500. This is a dream come true," said Beatriz. "I've been racing since I was eight. Since I saw Emerson Fittipaldi winning the Indianapolis 500, I wanted to do the same thing. Here I am trying to get my dream. We're going to focus on racing now."