Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet became the first-ever Frenchman to win the pole for the Indianapolis 500 race. He ran 229.992 mph, not quite as fast as Spencer Pigot, but fast enough to score his 11th IndyCar pole, making it number 266 pole for Team Penske, and its eighteenth Indy 500 pole. A new record was set – the closest-ever Indy 500 field based on time. There was a mere 1.8932 seconds between Pagenaud’s pole time and that of the slowest car in the field, Pippa Mann/No.39 Driven2SaveLives Clauson-Marshall Racing Chevrolet, who qualified 30th.
Pagenaud said “I can’t thank my teammates enough for always pushing me. This is the biggest race in the world.” Last year teammate Will Power won both May races at IMS. Pagenaud won last weekend’s Indy Grand Prix. “I think we have all the . momentum we need. We have the best car; obviously, we showed it today. We have the best engine right now. At the end of the day, there is a lot that can happen. It’s a long race – 500 miles. We just need to execute.
Starting second through fourth are the three Chevrolets of Ed Carpenter Racing – Spencer Pigot/No.21 Auto Geek, Ed Carpenter/No.20, and Ed Jones/No.63 Scuderia Corsa.
Fifth through ninth are:Rookie Colton Herta/No.88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda, Will Power/No.12 Verizon 5g Team Penske Chevrolet, Sebastien Bourdais/No.18 SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda, Josef Newgarden/No.2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet, and Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda.
It was thirty-five degrees cooler Sunday, and windy. The sun played hide-and-seek with the high clouds, and it rained sporadically during the day. The skies opened up for a brief but torrential downpour during Alonso’s presser. For the 103rd running of this iconic race, there will be 15 Chevrolets and 18 Hondas. The youngest driver is Herta at age 18 – just barely. The oldest is Oriol Servia/No.77 MotoGator Team Stange w/Arrow SPM Honda. He is 44 and starting nineteenth.
Left to Right: Sage Karem, James Hinchcliffe & Kyle Kaiser.
Left to Right: No.24 DRR Chevrolet; No.5 Arrow Honda; & No.32 Juncos Chevrolet. Photos by Pablo Matamoros.
It was Youth and Good Looks triumphing over Experience and Age, for the bubble seat on the Indy 500 grid. First, it was young Sage Karem/No.24 DRR Wix Filters Dreyer Reinbold Racing Chevrolet who took the top spot in qualifying for the Last Row. His car number is also his age. Then it was young part-time IndyCar driver, Kyle Kaiser/No.32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet who knocked off the two-time Formula One Champion, Fernando Alonso/No.66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet, for the very last seat on the last row. Kaiser is the fifth youngest driver this May. Sandwiched in between the two kids was Indy 500 hard-luck kid, James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.
Karem said “We just kept slightly missing the balance for the weather, and then ended up having to come back today to fight into the field, and that was probably one of the most — that was the most stressful 48 ours of my life, probably on e of the biggest battles I’e ever had to go through mentally.”
Hinchcliff said “Indy, she likes a dramatic day. It’s crazy how it played out. I know a year ago I was watching everybody else go out for the fast nine, and we weren’t in the show, and it sucks. I feel bad for those guys. We had a really strong car in race trim, so I’m bummed that I wrecked that one, but hopefully it all translate well to the new car and we get back to group running. I told Sam (Schmidt) before we went out that we are going to try to not do this next year, try not to have it be so dramatic.”
Kaiser said about today’s run that “It felt like we qualified on pole, to be honest. It was pretty wild. I didn’t really know right away. I had no idea. I had somewhat of an idea because I got to see the laps, but I heard it was really close. An I came across start finish and first thing I asked was ‘are we in, did we make it?’ and I just heard screaming, so that was a good sign. But the last 48 hours, like Sage said, has been an absolute whirlwind. It’s been crazy. We had really good pace with our main car, but obviously we had an incident, and it’s been just an uphill battle since then.”
Not making the show were Alonso, and the two Carlin Chevrolet teammates, Rookie Patricio O’Ward/No.31 and Max Chilton/No.59 Gallagher. Alonso and McLaren Racing Sporting Director, Gil de Ferran met with the media. Alonso said “It has been a very long qualifying, nearly 56 hours of qualifying from yesterday morning. So yeah, we were just one place all the time-out. Yesterday 31st instead of 30. Today 34th instead of 33 by a very small margin, and yeah, unfortunately not fast enough in any or both days. Yeah, disappointed now. Obviously it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday. We came here to race and to challenge ourselves, and we were not quick enough. You know, I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully we’ll see a nice show next Sunday, everyone safe, and enjoying from the TV unfortunately.
But in terms of motorsport in general, to be here, and at least try, it deserves some credit. Obviously we are all disappointed, and we will try to do better next time. But it’s that kind of things that you learn. I said before, I prefer to be here, even 34th, than being at home like last year.
De Ferran was quite clear on the prospect of buying a ride into the race. “We will not do that. We want to earn our place in the field.”
Wrecker or Checker. That had been the mindset for Rookie Patricio O’Ward/No.31 Carlin Chevrolet – so said he. He didn’t wreck and he didn’t make the field. “I did everything in my power to get everything out of the car I could. I can’t remember how many adjustments I made. It’s disappointing.”
UNOFFICIAL QUALIFYING RESULTS
1. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 2:36.5271 (229.992 mph)
2. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 2:36.5971 (229.889)
3. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 2:36.6402 (229.826)
4. (63) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 2:36.7629 (229.646)
5. (88) Colton Herta, Honda, 2:37.1465 (229.086)
6. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 2:37.4490 (228.645)
7. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 2:37.4659 (228.621)
8. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 2:37.6208 (228.396)
9. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 2:37.7240 (228.247)
10. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 2:37.3729 (228.756)
11. (25) Conor Daly, Honda, 2:37.4688 (228.617)
12. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 2:37.5337 (228.523)
13. (7) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 2:37.5415 (228.511)
14. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 2:37.6874 (228.300)
15. (33) James Davison, Honda, 2:37.7057 (228.273)
16. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 2:37.8116 (228.120)
17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 2:37.8226 (228.104)
18. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 2:37.8256 (228.100)
19. (77) Oriol Servia, Honda, 2:37.9009 (227.991)
20. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 2:37.9535 (227.915)
21. (48) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 2:37.9584 (227.908)
22. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 2:37.9799 (227.877)
23. (19) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 2:38.0815 (227.731)
24. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 2:38.0911 (227.717)
25. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 2:38.1063 (227.695)
26. (42) Jordan King, Honda, 2:38.2402 (227.502)
27. (81) Ben Hanley, Chevrolet, 2:38.2542 (227.482)
28. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 2:38.3523 (227.341)
29. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 2:38.3834 (227.297)
30. (39) Pippa Mann, Chevrolet, 2:38.4203 (227.244)
31. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 2:38.0747 (227.740)
32. (5T) James Hinchcliffe, Chevrolet, 2:38.2118 (227.543)
33. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 2:38.3311 (227.372)