Will Power led the way through the first segment of time trials for the 97th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race with a four-lap average speed of 228.844 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.
Power, who started fifth in the 500 Mile Race the past two years and has a best finish of fifth in 2009, recorded the fastest lap of practice – the fastest since 2003 – in the session preceding Pole Day qualifications at 229.808 mph with a tow. His first lap of 229.422 mph (39.2290 seconds) was the fastest of qualifications.
Following the first segment to determine the fastest 24 qualifiers, the top nine will return to shoot for the $100,000 Verizon P1 Award and 15 points in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. Second place in the Verizon Front Row Awards is worth $50,000 and third receives a $40,000 bonus.
Each driver will get one four-lap attempt. Segment 1 was delayed almost 90 minutes because of rain.
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"The car had very nice balance and a lot of speed," Power said. "It's a good way to start and we have a shot at pole so I'm happy. If we can repeat (this effort) I think we'll definitely have a shot at the pole."
The top nine were all Chevrolet-powered cars, and Power was joined by teammates Helio Castroneves (227.975 mph) and first-year Indy 500 competitor AJ Allmendinger (227.761 mph). All five Andretti Autosport cars, which were strong in each of the seven days of practice, advanced to the second round.
Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was second quick overall (228.282 mph) in the No. 1 DHL car. Rookie Carlos Munoz (228.171), Marco Andretti (227.893), E.J. Viso (227.612) and James Hinchcliffe (227.493) also cracked the top nine as did Ed Carpenter (227.952) in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car.
Also of note on Pole Day: Three-time and defending Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti qualified 17th (226.069) in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. He started 16th last May. Teammate Scott Dixon, the '08 race winner, qualified 16th (226.158). Alex Tagliani, the 2011 pole sitter, qualified 11th (227.386) in the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car.
Ryan Briscoe, the 2012 pole winner, slipped into P23 on his third qualifying attempt in the No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Teams car (225.265).
Positions 25-33 will be set through four-lap qualifications May 19 on Old National Armed Forces Bump Day.
There will be at least one bump in determining the 33-car field as Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey entered the No. 81 Angie's List Honda-powered car to be driven by Katherine Legge. She’s expected to participate in the 9-10 a.m. (ET) practice session and make at least one qualifying attempt later in the day. Each entrant is allowed three qualifying attempts as time permits.
In addition to Legge, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammates Graham Rahal and Michel Jourdain Jr., rookies Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly, Ana Beatriz, Buddy Lazier, Pippa Mann, Josef Newgarden and Sebastian Saavedra will attempt to qualify.
Once the field is filled, any qualifying attempt that is faster than a qualified entrant in the field will bump the slowest qualifier regardless of the day of qualification. The "bumping" entrant is placed at the rear of the field, while the "bumped" entrant is removed from the field, but has the opportunity to bumps its way back into the field as time allows.