Ed Carpenter will start from the pole position in the Kentucky Indy 300 on Saturday night. Running a partial season as teammate to Dan Wheldon at Panther Racing, Carpenter scored his first pole in 101 IndyCar Series starts. Ed Carpenter,...
Ed Carpenter will start from the pole position in the Kentucky Indy 300 on Saturday night. Running a partial season as teammate to Dan Wheldon at Panther Racing, Carpenter scored his first pole in 101 IndyCar Series starts.
"I saw Dan (Wheldon) go out ahead of me and put up a good number, so I knew we had a shot," Carpenter said.
The 1.48-mile Kentucky Speedway has been good to Carpenter. He nearly scored his first victory last year when he was nipped at the checkered flag by Ryan Briscoe. Briscoe, who has started from the pole at every 1.5-mile track this season, is starting ninth.
Carpenter will have to contend with Briscoe's teammate at the start as Team Penske driver Will Power will take the green from the outside of the front row.
Power, who is looking to score his first IndyCar Series championship, leads Dario Franchitti by 23 points with three races remaining. "I need a good result on a 1.5 mile oval," Power said. "It's important to finish ahead of Dario (Franchitti) to keep the points lead.
Dan Wheldon has struggled since joining Panther Racing for the 2009 season but has shown recent improvement. After finishing second last week at Chicagoland Speedway, Wheldon will start third tomorrow, his best start of the season.
Track and weather conditions changed dramatically between practice, which was stopped twice for moisture and qualifying, held under bright sunny skies. Scott Dixon was one of several drivers reporting loose conditions in qualifying. "At the start of qualifying run the car was extremely loose and we still had a lot of driving to do. It is a windy day here and doesn't take a lot to get the cars out of shape," said Dixon after qualifying fourth.
Hideki Mutoh was comfortable enough to put together a top five qualifying effort. "It was nice to hold the fastest spot for a while and end up with a fifth place starting position," said Mutoh. "It's more than we expected. We struggled a lot this morning and decided to just go for it in qualifying. The car was handling well so I really pushed it. We didn't take off all of the downforce for qualifying; we went about half-way and it looks like it worked out well for us."
The opening laps of Saturday's race should be interesting as qualifying produced several surprises. Bertrand Baguette will start sixth in a Conquest Racing entry, a career best for Baguette and Mario Moraes will start seventh, his best start of the season.
Dario Franchitti, who won last week's race at Chicagoland, will start 11th, while Raphael Matos will start 20th. Veteran drivers Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan will start 23rd and 26th, respectively.
Ryan Hunter-Reay lost the back end of his car in qualifying and did a half spin before the left side of the car made contact with the wall. He was checked and released from the infield car center. "We were just being way too aggressive on trying to get the car as free and as neutral as possible in qualifying," he said. "It gave me a little warning sign there in Turns 3 and 4. It kind of got a little loose and then coming out of Turn 1 it did a big wiggle and I couldn't get it back."
Hunter-Reay will line up 27th.