Ed Carpenter/No.20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet has the Pole Position for the 102nd Indy 500, earned on Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is his third Indy 500 pole position in the last five years, fourth as a team owner, and fifth in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He also won with Josef Newgarden in Milwaukee, and one as a driver for Panther in 2010 at Kentucky. It was a popular pole indeed, as the crowd went wild for their local lad. Carpenter is one of only ten drivers who have had three Indy 500 poles.
The weather remained sunny, warm and dry all day with no weather threats at all, despite earlier forecasts.
Carpenter said “I’ve just got to thank my team. That first lap blew my mind. To be able to share the top nine with Spencer – his first top nine with Preferred Freezer, and Danica with Go Daddy, we’re super happy to be here and obviously it couldn’t be possible without Fuzzy’s Vodka. It’s always nice to start up front just because you sort of control things a little bit. Of all the pole runs I’ve had here, this one, believe it pole, believe it or not, came the easiest. So, thank you.”
The Fast Nine finishers were: Carpenter; Castroneves; Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet – the only driver to be in the Fast Nine in every one of his Indy 500 races; Josef Newgarden/No.1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet; Sebastien Bourdais/No.18 Team SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing Honda – the top Honda; Spencer Pigot/No.21 Preferred Freezer Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet – his best VICS start; Danica Patrick/No.13 Go Daddy Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet; Helio Castroneves/No.3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet; and Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Carpenter’s four-lap average of of 229.618 mph was the first to top the fast 228.919 mph lap of Helio Castroneves on Fast Friday. Carpenter topped 230.088 mph on the first of his four qualifying laps. The roar from the crowd could be heard everywhere over the sound of the car. Carpenter said he could hear it in the car. “It may have came from inside the car because I don’t know that I was expecting to see that, either, but the 20 car had a lot of speed in it, and we still had a long ways to go at that point. I had seen other guys drop off a lot, especially guys picking up understeer in the middle of the run, so we were able to put down four pretty consistent laps for the time of day. It was a lot of fun.”
Pagenaud joked before getting serious. “Yeah, hell, of course I’m happy. You could say I’m the first loser, but I’m still happy. I think it’s a phenomenal job from Chevrolet, first of all.” He was on top – until Carpenter’s run. “That’s the game. That’s qualifying. It’s exciting. It’s very good for the fans. It’s four laps. You compete on the edge of everything. We tried to trim the car as much as we can to go super fast down the straightaway. I managed to go through the corners for four laps, but it’s holding your breath. Definitely the part that I hate the most is watching because you never know what the others have.”
Power starts third. “We went out and practiced after making a big change overnight, and it was completely wrong and the car was just — like I lost all my confidence because I was having so many moments, and so we had to go back on that and just kind of take — return the car to the way it was, and it did. Car was pretty stuck, could have trimmed out more. There was no way I was ever going to do the speed that Ed does. Like it’s just impossible.”
Patrick starts seventh. “You hope it’s boring (qualifying,) and it was pretty boring. So as far as a run goes, to be going as fast as you can possibly go. Yeah, it was pretty comfortable. I’m grateful for that, and I said to my engineer Don on pit road, I said, we’re pilots. We’re there in case something goes wrong, but other than that everything should be pretty predictable, pretty boring up there. You’re pilots just ready for emergencies. That’s what we’re doing in the car, we’re ready for understeers, oversteers, and you’re there for it, so luckily it was pretty good.”
Regarding this being her final race: “Some people were asking that on pit road right after I got out of the car. I’m like, guys, I’m within minutes. I’m not really thinking about that yet. And I’m still not really. I basically sat on pit road and watched everyone qualify and sat there and said good job to everybody and went down and saw Ed and came up here. Not really putting a lot of thought into that yet.”
Castroneves starts eighth after being fastest Friday. “It was — I mean, expectation was high for sure, and all of a sudden I got — I said, you know what, I’m going to take a chance. I have nothing to lose in this situation, just — it paid off in the past but did not pay off today. Certainly Shell-Pennzoil did everything they could, the group did everything they could, and when I was kind of following what my teammates were doing, I was like, we’ve got to take a chance because I knew I was going to be strong, and then when I was sitting in the car and when I saw the 230, I heard the 230 obviously, and I even asked the guys, do we have enough gear to do that, and they said, well, with a little help from the wind, we might.
So that was impressive. So I said, you know what, leave it as it is, we’ll take a chance and see what happens. Unfortunately the car started to lose in every corner basically, so I was just literally saving out there.”
LEFT TO RIGHT: Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist, and Marco Andretti. Photos by Pablo Matamoros.
Starting tenth now will be Tony Kanaan/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. Filling out the row behind the Fast Nine will be Kanaan’s teammate, Rookie Matheus Leist/No.4, and Marco Andretti/No.98 US Concrete Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda.
Kanaan said “I have a brand new car for the race (as does teammate, Leist.) I told them today our pole is going to be 10th. This is pole in my books.”
Leist got his first Indy Lights victory here at the Brickyard last year. “We were just fast. I think that if qualifying was yesterday and we had this car, we would probably be in the Fast Nine. I’m just so happy for this team. Everyone deserves it. I’m looking forward to the race now.”
Andretti said “I thought it was alright. I was chasing balance end to end. I’m excited about the race that’s for sure. Yesterday wouldn’t have been enough for the top nine – I just want to be Row 4 because we can get it done from there.”
After his qualifying, Kanaan joined Dave Furst from the local ABC affiliate, Channel 6 WRTV, in Pit Lane to do live TV commentary.
The last row will be Jack Harvey/No.60 Auto Nation/SiriusXM Michael Shank Racing with SPM Honda; Alexander Rossi//No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda; and Conor Daly/No.17 United Air Force Dale Coyne Racing dba Thomas Burns Honda.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Jack Harvey, Alexander Rossi, and Conor Daly. Photos by Pablo Matamoros.
When Group One qualifying started it was 84 degrees F, 51 percent humidity and very little wind. James Davison/No.33 Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Foyt with Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi Honda was first out, after being last on Saturday. He did well and will grid P19, a gain of 14 positions. Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo/No.19 PaySafe Dale Coyne Racing Honda was P26 Friday but jumped to the top of the list after his qualifying run, a position he held for the next ten runs, when he was supplanted by Andretti, who gained eight positions. Clamon De Melo was a last-minute substitution in No.19 for the injured Pietro Fittipaldi. Claman De Melo has run scheduled three races this season for Coyne, all road/street courses, and last weekend’s IMS Grand Prix, filling in for Fittipaldi. This is CDM’s first IC oval. “I’m super happy to end up where we are as a rookie. I believe in my ability in the race more so than qualifying, that’s something that I need to work on, so to start so far forward makes my life easier as a driver. It’s been surreal to be here as rookie.”
Then Rookie Matheus Leist/No.4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet pipped Andretti for the coveted P10 slot. He improved two positions over Friday … until his teammate Tony Kanaan/No.14 topped him. Last up Rossi, who had been tenth fastest on Friday, fell all the way down to P32.
Rossi said “It’s, for sure, frustration. I thought we were fighting for Row 4, and now we are on the last row. We had the speed to do it all month. It’s unfortunate. I think it was something pretty major. … The first lap was manageable-ish, and then it was just survival and you had to bring the car home.”
In the Best of the Rest/Group One practice session at noon Sunday, Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda was the fastest with a 230.507 mph lap. He ran 13 laps. Second fastest overall was Marco Andretti/No.98 US Concrete Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda, who also cracked the 230 barrier at 230.263 mph. No one else was able to top the 228.919 mph Fast Friday lap set by Helio Castroneves/No.3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet.
Third through fifth overall Sunday noon were: Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda; Tony Kanaan/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet; and Charlie Kimball/No.23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet.
The fastest No-Tow driver in the session was Rookie Matheus Leist/No.4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet in sixth position. Second through fifth fastest No-Tow laps were turned by Kanaan; Rookie Robert Wickens Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda; Andretti; and Jay Howard/No.7 One Cure SPM Honda.
The only Fast Nine drivers to go out in their 45-minute session were the four Team Penske Chevrolets. Of those, Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Menards was the fastest with a 229.409 mph lap, good enough for fourth overall. But that was a No-Tow lap, making him the fastest in that category. The teammates were the top four in the No-Tow list, moving Leist to P5. The Penske overall order for the session was Pagenaud-P4, Castroneves-P5; Josef Newgarden/No.1 Verizon-P6, and Power/No.12 Verizon-P8. Dixon said he saw no reason to go out for the session. He didn’t last year and the track conditions wouldn’t equate to the afternoon qualifier.
As it was also Armed Forces Day at The Speedway, there were a variety of military observances in the Pagoda Patio area and displays around the track.
Monday’s schedule calls for VICS practice 12:30-4pm, along with other obligatory activities including photo shoots and autograph sessions. The Indy Lights cars come in Sunday night and are on track 4:30-6pm Monday. Then the VICS drivers get a two-day hiatus from on-track/at track activities, as they all will on whirlwind appearances around North America promoting The Biggest Spectacle In Racing. Wednesday morning the teams will participate in the Pit Stop Practice
OFFICIAL QUALIFYING RESULTS
1. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 2:36.7818 (229.618 mph)
2. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 2:37.3696 (228.761)
3. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 2:37.4757 (228.607)
4. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 2:37.6151 (228.405)
5. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 2:37.7965 (228.142)
6. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 2:37.8208 (228.107)
7. (13) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 2:37.8326 (228.090)
8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 2:37.9924 (227.859)
9. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 2:38.4076 (227.262)
10. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 2:38.1278 (227.664)
11. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 2:38.1922 (227.571)
12. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 2:38.3894 (227.288)
13. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 2:38.5908 (226.999)
14. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 2:38.7389 (226.788)
15. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 2:38.8304 (226.657)
16. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 2:38.9003 (226.557)
17. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 2:39.0119 (226.398)
18. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 2:39.0835 (226.296)
19. (33) James Davison, Chevrolet, 2:39.1128 (226.255)
20. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 2:39.1430 (226.212)
21. (29) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 2:39.2585 (226.048)
22. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 2:39.2874 (226.007)
23. (25) Stefan Wilson, Honda, 2:39.3889 (225.863)
24. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 2:39.4171 (225.823)
25. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 2:39.4696 (225.748)
26. (64) Oriol Servia, Honda, 2:39.5044 (225.699)
27. (66) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 2:39.7032 (225.418)
28. (7) Jay Howard, Honda, 2:39.7245 (225.388)
29. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 2:39.7433 (225.362)
30. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 2:39.7679 (225.327)
31. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 2:39.8193 (225.254)
32. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 2:40.0462 (224.935)
33. (17) Conor Daly, Honda, 2:40.4073 (224.429)