Ed Carpenter drove his Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet to pole position for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500, the third time he’s achieved the feat in six years, while teammate Danica Patrick outqualified Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.
Opening his four-lap run with the only 230mph lap of the qualifying session, Carpenter never dropped below 229mph, and set an average of 229.618mph.
That was 0.857mph faster than his nearest opposition, the best of the Team Penske-Chevrolets, driven by Simon Pagenaud. Will Power will start from the outside of Row 1. The Aussie is the only driver to have reached the Fast Nine every year since it started in 2010.
Josef Newgarden will roll off fourth, alongside the quickest of the Hondas, that of Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing, who set an average of 228.676mph. On the outside of the second row on the 3x3 grid will be the second fastest Carpenter car, that of Spencer Pigot.
Danica Patrick will start her final ever race in seventh, the last of the entrants to have an average over 228mph. Helio Castroneves’ run tailed off badly – 228.992 down to 227.0, which is why he’s down in eighth, while Dixon was never really in the hunt.
In the session for positions 10-33 on the grid, there were many surprises. Least surprising was the fact that the AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolets will start 10th and 11th, after a brilliantly smooth run from the 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, and a brilliantly wild run from Matheus Leist.
The only other driver in the session to set an average in the 227s was Marco Andretti, easily fastest of the Andretti Autosport-Hondas, precisely 0.5mph faster than Ryan Hunter-Reay. But it was one of their teammates, 2016 Indy winner Alexander Rossi, who had the wildest ride, clicking off a 227.454mph on his first lap but his loose #27 NAPA car trying to smack the wall so often that he tumbled to 224mph on Lap 3 and 221 on Lap 4. He will start from the middle of the back row, between Jack Harvey and Conor Daly.
Zachary Claman De Melo, the #19 Dale Coyne Racing driver subbing for the injured Pietro Fittipaldi, will start an excellent 13th after a very neat and tidy run, while another newcomer – the Carlin-Chevrolet team – can be proud of getting Charlie Kimball onto the outside of row five.
Other startling and sparkling performances came from rookie Kyle Kaiser in the Juncos Racing-Chevy, 17th, and James Davison 19th in the AJ Foyt Racing-Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi car he trashed two days ago!
Defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was 16th, but his fulltime Rahal Letterman Lanigan teammate Graham Rahal will start only 30th, beaten by their part-time teammate, Oriol Servia, who struggled to Bump his way into the field of 33 yesterday.
The other driver who must have expected more from his day is Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ed Jones. A major bobble on his third lap saw him drop in a 223mph effort, dropping his average to 225.362mph. He will start 29th.
Indy 500 Fast nine qualifying results
Indy 500, Group 1, P10-33
|13||19||Zachary Claman De Melo||4||2'38.5908||0.4630||0.2014||226.999|