Carpenter storms to Indy 500 pole

2018-05-21 12:05
Ed Carpenter (Getty Images)
Ed Carpenter (Getty Images)

Indianapolis - Driver and car owner Ed Carpenter won his third Indianapolis 500 pole position in Sunday's time trials while team-mate Danica Patrick qualified seventh for her auto racing farewell next Sunday.

Carpenter, a 37-year-old hometown hero, took the top spot on the 2.5-mile (4km) oval with a four-lap qualifying average of 229.618 mph (369.53km/h) to claim the inside front row spot in the 33-car field for the 102nd Indy showdown.

"It means everything to me to put us in a position like this," Carpenter said.

"It's nice to start up front. It feels good knowing I have good air in front of me."

France's Simon Pagenaud will start in the middle of row one after qualifying second-fastest at 228.761 mph while Australian Will Power completed an all-Chevrolet-powered front row in 228.607 mph.

Carpenter, the 2013 and 2014 pole sitter, has finished no better than fifth in 14 Indy 500 starts, that top effort coming in 2008.

The most recent of his three career IndyCar series wins came in 2014 at Texas.

But Carpenter had the fastest single lap of the day at 230.088 mph to start his run and never dropped below 229 mph on any lap.

"That first lap blew my mind," Carpenter said. "I knew we had more left but I wasn't expecting a 230. Of all the pole runs I've had here, this one came the easiest."

Carpenter is the car owner for fellow Americans Patrick and Spencer Pigot, who were also among Saturday's nine fastest qualifiers and thus earned a chance to run for the pole on Sunday.

Patrick finished seventh, one spot behind Pigot, and booked an inside third row start for the final race of her trailblazing 20-year career.

"I had one little slip on the exit of (turn) one that was the only non-boring part, but otherwise it was straightforward," Patrick said of her qualifying run.

She had watched as another US racer who nearly bumped her from the fast nine pole hunters, Alexander Rossi, faded in Sunday's runs and settled for a last-row starting spot.

"The fear of having a bad day is there. That's possible here. Indy just changes," Patrick said.

"I'm thankful for all the good days I've had here. Now it's time for 500 fun miles."

Patrick, back at Indy after running stock cars since 2011, began the pole fight with a run of 228.090 but was overtaken by US racer Josef Newgarden, who then lost the top spot to Power.

Pagenaud followed to grab a front-row spot only to see Carpenter's run deny him the pole.

"It's four laps when you are completely on the edge of everything. It's like holding your breath," Pagenaud said.

"It's a front row. It's a great job."

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the last man on the track after topping Saturday's speed chart but only went 227.859 and will start in the middle of row three between Patrick and New Zealand's Scott Dixon.

"It was a tough one," Castroneves said. "Hopefully we can get the big win number four from there. I'd prefer the win to the pole position."

France's Sebastien Bourdais, who crashed last year in qualifying, will start in the middle of row two between Newgarden and Pigot after a run at 228.142.

"It was really hard. The car was sliding a lot," Bourdais said. "Pretty happy with the run the way things went."

The slowest 24 qualifiers from Saturday took one run each Sunday and filled out the grid's last eight rows, with Brazil's Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, the fastest at 227.664 mph to claim the inside fourth row spot.

"We worked so hard and that's all we had," Kanaan said. "We missed the fast nine. I couldn't make it for thousandths of a second. Today felt like a win for us. We're working really hard."

Another Brazilian, Matheus Leist, will start in the middle of row four as the fastest rookie qualifier in 227.571 mph, two spots better than Canadian newcomer Zachary Claman de Melo.

Defending Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato of Japan will start from the inside of the sixth row.

Results from Sunday's Indianapolis 500 qualifying for next Sunday's race (4-lap mph average  on 2.5-mile/4km oval, first three rows open only to top Saturday qualifiers):

Row One

Ed Carpenter (USA) 229.618

Simon Pagenaud (FRA) 228.761

Will Power (AUS) 228.607

Row Two

Josef Newgarden (USA) 228.405

Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) 228.142

Spencer Pigot (USA) 228.107

Row Three

Danica Patrick (USA) 228.090

Helio Castroneves (BRA) 227.859

Scott Dixon (NZL) 227.262

Row Four

10. Tony Kanaan (BRA) 227.664

11. Matheus Leist (BRA) 227.571

12. Marco Andretti (USA) 227.288

Row Five

13. Zachary Claman de Melo (CAN) 226.999

14. Ryan Hunter-Reay (USA) 226.788

15. Charlie Kimball (USA) 226.657

Row Six

16. Takuma Sato (JPN) 226.557

17. Kyle Kaiser (USA) 226.398

18. Robert Wickens (CAN) 226.296

Row Seven

19. James Davison (AUS) 226.255

20. Max Chilton (GBR) 226.212

21. Carlos Munoz (COL) 226.048

Row Eight

22. Gabby Chaves (COL) 226.007

23. Stefan Wilson (GBR) 225.863

24. Sage Karam (USA) 225.823

Row Nine

25. Zach Veach (USA) 225.748

26. Oriol Servia (ESP) 225.699

27. JR Hildebrand (USA) 225.418

Row Ten

28. Jay Howard (GBR) 225.388

29. Ed Jones (UAE) 225.362

30. Graham Rahal (USA) 225.327

Row Eleven

31. Jack Harvey (GBR) 225.254

32. Alexander Rossi (USA) 224.935

33. Conor Daly (USA) 224.429

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