Pagenaud to start fifth in 98th Indy 500

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Simon Pagenaud turned a four lap qualifying average of 230.614 mph in the No. 77 Lucas Oil Dallara/Honda/Firestone car prepared by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

INDIANAPOLIS - Simon Pagenaud will start from the middle of Row Two in the 98th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25 after posting the fifth quickest qualifying speed in the Fast Nine Shootout Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Pagenaud turned a four lap qualifying average of 230.614 mph in the No. 77 Lucas Oil Dallara/Honda/Firestone car prepared by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM).

"Qualifying in Indy is the most nerve wracking thing I've ever done," Pagenaud said. "We're obviously running as little downforce as we can to go fast, so the car is difficult to handle in the corners. I have to thank my crew for doing such a good job."

Pagenaud was also celebrating his 30th birthday Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Winning the coveted Indianapolis 500 pole would have been an ideal birthday present, but starting a career-best fifth in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing was also rewarding.

"We're fifth on the grid of the Indianapolis 500, which is a great place to start from," Pagenaud said. "I'd love to get the pole here one day, and I think we'll get there eventually."

Ed Carpenter won the Indianapolis 500 pole with a four-lap average in the Fast Nine Shootout of 231.067 mph.

Jacques Villeneuve, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Jacques Villeneuve, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda

Photo by: Chris Owens

"I have to say congratulations to Ed Carpenter and his team," Pagenaud said. "I think that's pretty amazing that he was able to turn four laps with an average of 231 mph. That shows the engine manufacturer war between Honda and Chevrolet is really heating up. I also think the Verizon IndyCar Series has come up with a very exciting new qualifying format for the Indy 500. The past two days have been thrilling, emotional and intense all at the same time."

Rookie Mikhail Aleshin will start 15th in his first Indianapolis 500. The Russian driver posted a four-lap average speed of 230.049 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.

"It was a really hard four laps for me," Aleshin said. "The team did a great job of preparing the car to put it right on the limit, but that makes it very challenging for the driver. That's what qualifying a car is all about, though. There were two times when I thought I was going to lose it, but at the same time I wasn't going to lift from the throttle."

Jacques Villeneuve will start his third Indianapolis 500 on the outside of the ninth row in 27th. The 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner turned four laps with an average speed of 228.949 mph.

"We were happy this morning in practice, but we lost a mile an hour in qualifying," Villeneuve said. "We're focusing on the race though, so we'll be in good shape next weekend. Some people think I'm crazy to come back, but I'm a racer at heart and I'm happy to be back in the most important race in the world."

SPM

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Event Indy 500
Sub-event Pole Day
Article type Qualifying reports
Tags indy 500, indycar, simon pagenaud