Ed Carpenter's lap of 230.522 mph during the brief "Fast Friday" session on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and Marco Andretti's heart-racing 232.239 mph lap in the May 17 morning practice session appear to be precursors of big speeds for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
Carpenter came back early in Round 1 of qualifications with a four-lap average speed of 230.114 mph -- the first time since Helio Castroneves' four-lap average of 231.725 mph to earn the pole in 2003 that a driver has cracked 230. Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport, followed two hours later with a four-lap average of 230.011 mph for second as 32 entries made qualifying attempts.
"The speeds are coming up quick," said Carpenter, who posted laps of 229.949, 230.184, 230.251 and 230.071 mph. "I think there are a couple of little things we can do to get some more speed out of it, but I would rather test that stuff on (May 18). I think we have a good chance for the pole, but the field is very tight this year. There are so many good cars and drivers out there that I don’t really know where we sit right now. It will come down on who gets it right on the day for the pole. It really comes down to being perfect for four laps."
Carpenter earned the Verizon P1 Award last May with a four-lap average speed of 228.762 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car with a top speed of 229.347 mph on Lap 1. It was the best four-lap average since 2006 when Sam Hornish Jr. won the pole with a four-lap average of 228.985 mph.
Qualifications continue until 5:50 p.m. (ET). The starting positions for the 33 cars, including the Verizon P1 Award, will be determined May 18.
Click it: Qualifications order
For a rundown on how the new qualifying format works CLICK HERE.
In 2003, four entries recorded four-lap average above 230 mph. Scott Dixon was the first (230.999), followed by Robby Gordon (230.205), Tony Kanaan (231.006) and Helio Castroneves, who went out at 4:36 p.m. Castroneves' fastest lap was 232.215 mph. There were 15 laps run over 230 mph. Besides the four, Dan Wheldon ran two laps above 230 in his qualifying attempt.
ABC will televise qualifications May 17 (4-6 p.m. ET) and May 18 (1-3 p.m.), with www.watchespn.com providing additional coverage around the TV windows. The IMS Radio Network broadcast both days can be heard on network affiliates, XM 209 and Sirius 213, on www.indycar.com in conjunction with Timing & Scoring and the INDYCAR 13 app.
Cool (44 degrees ambient and 53 degrees track) temperatures greeted the 33 drivers logging laps in the session preceding qualifications. Twelve entries cracked 230 mph in the sessions split into two groups.
Click it: Practice 7 results
Andretti, driving the No. 25 Snapple car, posted the fastest lap speed in practice since 2003, when Scott Dixon recorded a 233-plus mph lap.