On paper, joining forces with Team Penske for the Indianapolis 500 should have guaranteed Paretta Autosport a strong starting position. But nothing has gone according to plan for The Captain’s four-car outfit or its affiliated fifth program with Beth Paretta and Simona De Silvestro, who squeaked into the show on the last row in P33.
Known for her steely determination and unrivaled bravery, De Silvestro withstood a pressure-packed Saturday and Sunday as her team and the Penske squad struggled to find speed.
“To be honest, it was definitely hard qualifying yesterday and today, but you know, I really had faith in the team and everyone worked so hard,” she said of the No. 16 Chevy crew. “I’ve been putting more pressure on me just to get it done. Hopefully, next time, we won’t have such a nerve-wracking moment.”
Her boss with the team dominated by women racers was a mix of relieved and proud after the checkered flag waved over the Last Chance Qualifying session.
“I feel like we climbed a mountain together,” Paretta said. “All these women, also all these men from Team Penske who have been coaching our women on this team and really just working digging in; it’s been all this week, but specially yesterday and today to get some on the grid. I couldn’t be happier and we can’t wait till next week.”
De Silvestro qualified one position behind Penske teammate Will Power, whose No. 12 Chevy was stuck in the same LCQ group. Like Paretta, she was relieved to be in the Indy 500 and represent a big group of girls and women who’ve been rooting for the No. 16 Chevy program.
“If you look at the team, the girls are working on the car like yesterday; we did two runs and they were on it,” De Silvestro added. “Everyone is really focused, and I hope that [we’re] gonna inspire a lot of young girls to just be whatever they want. That’s what we’re doing right now. And to be honest, if I look at my career, I’m super proud to be part of the of this right now.”
For Paretta, next Sunday’s Indy 500 won’t be their last.
“This is just the beginning, for sure,” she said.