Eleven drivers have won back-to-back pole positions but none has won three in a row.
Indianapolis, Friday - The pole at the Indianapolis 500 is one of the most coveted starting positions in motorsports. For Ed Carpenter and Helio Castroneves, history will also be on the line this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in two days of qualifying for the 99th Running of the 500 Mile Race.
Eleven drivers have won back-to-back pole positions but none has won three in a row. Carpenter, in his No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka CFH Racing entry, has an opportunity for that after winning the pole in each of the past two years.
"That's what everyone has been asking me all week: 'Are you going to win a third pole?' I don't know. If it happens, it happens," Carpenter said.
I don't feel like I'm the favorite. I feel like I have a great race car and the whole Team Penske is doing a great job.
The 11-time "500" starter vows that his focus remains solely on winning the race despite the qualifying history that is also on the table. Castroneves is in a similar position, owning three "500" wins and gunning on May 24 for the ultra-prestigious fourth title to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as Indy's all-time winningest drivers, but also in contention for some pole history of his own.
Castroneves, with No. 1 qualifying efforts in 2003, 2007 and 2009-10, is one of three drivers with four poles, alongside Foyt and Rex Mays. A fifth this weekend would put him second among all-time pole winners, one behind Mears' six.
The Brazilian, driving the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet, could also give car owner Roger Penske a record-extending 18th pole position.
If the week's speed charts are any indication, however, another Team Penske driver may have the inside track for the top spot. Simon Pagenaud clocked the week's best speed on "Fast Friday" at 230.698 mph in the No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet.
"I don't feel like I'm the favorite. I feel like I have a great race car and the whole Team Penske is doing a great job. The car is amazing and really fast," Pagenaud said. "There's so many outside factors that will come into play tomorrow. ... The decision that we make with the aero level may be too low or too high for the temperature. It's going to be really tough for the engineers. I hope my engineer Ben (Bretzman) still has some hair at the end of the day."
The pole position cannot be won on Saturday but drivers must be among the nine fastest in full-field qualifying in order to run in the Fast Nine Shootout for the pole on Sunday. Qualifying will be held from 11 a.m.-5:50 p.m. on Saturday.
Previous pole winners Tony Kanaan (2005), Scott Dixon (2008) and Alex Tagliani (2011) will try to join the group of 18 drivers with multiple Indy poles.
The four-lap qualifying record is 236.986 mph by Arie Luyendyk in 1996.