An Indiana racer, who has revered the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its signature race since before he climbed in a quarter-midget for the initial time, will start from the pole in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race for the second year in a row.
Verizon IndyCar Series team owner/driver Ed Carpenter -- the final qualifier May 18 in the Fast Nine Shootout on the 2.5-mile oval -- recorded a four-lap average of 231.067 mph in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car to bump James Hinchcliffe from the top spot on the speed chart and claim the $100,000 Verizon P1 Award.
Carpenter is the 11th driver to earn back-to-back poles for the 500 Mile Race -- the most recent Helio Castroneves in 2009-10. The four-lap average was the fastest since 2003, when Castroneves won the pole (231.725 mph) and was the race runner-up. Carpenter earned the Verizon P1 Award last May with a four-lap average speed of 228.762 mph.
"It's awesome to do this two years in a row; I was surprised last year and didn't expect to do it this year with such deep competition. It’s exciting, but after going through this last year and not winning the race I’ve been so much more determined," said Carpenter, who led 37 laps but finished 10th. "Now it's all about the race, and we want to close the deal."
Click it: Indianapolis 500 Mile Race qualification results
The Fast Nine Shootout closed two intriguing days of qualifications under a new format that set the field May 17 and determined starting positions May 18. The 33-car field average of 229.698 mph is the fastest in Indianapolis 500 history.
Juan Pablo Montoya recorded a four-lap average of 231.007 mph average in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car to lead the qualifiers for positions 10-33. He’ll be on Row 4 with reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon (230.928 mph average) in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car and first-year competitor Kurt Busch (230.027) in the No. 26 Suretone car for Andretti Autosport. READ THE STORY
“Looking at that pylon and seeing my number up there from the Andretti Autosport team is a dream come true," said Busch, who will attempt to be the fourth driver to compete in the Indy 500 and NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day. "A lot of hard work has been put in place; I was trying to deliver. I’m a little out of my element, and the challenge of doing this double and everything going back and forth. I think I can be satisfied with 12th place."
Six of those 24 qualifiers registered four-lap averages above 230 mph, and all but four bettered their average speed from Round 1. Row 11 features the youngest – 19-year-old Sage Karam – and oldest – 46-year-old Buddy Lazier – alongside Sebastian Saavedra, who turns 24 on June 2.
The difference in time between Carpenter and Lazier (2.1509 seconds) is the closest field by time in the history of the Indianapolis 500. The previous closest was 2.5399 seconds in 2011. The difference in speed between Carpenter and Lazier (3.147 mph) is the second-closest field by speed in the history of the race. The closest was 3.130 mph in 1953.
Hinchcliffe, who eight days earlier suffered a concussion in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and was cleared to drive May 15, registered a fast lap of 231.618 mph on his first lap in the session and averaged 230.839 mph in the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car. Will Power (230.697 average) will start on the outside of Row 1 -- his second front-row start.
"You earn your money qualifying at Indy," said Hinchcliffe, who also qualified second in 2012. "We got a little bit loose going into Turn 3 on that last lap and had to crack the throttle and that’s what killed that final lap. Without that, who knows what could have been. But at the end of the day, we’re still starting second and that’s an awesome place to be. We need to make sure we’ve got a good race car because 10 miles is one thing, 500 is another."
Castroneves, seeking his fourth Indy 500 victory, recorded the fastest qualifying lap of the two days (231.671) in the Fast Nine Shootout in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske car. Simon Pagenaud (230.614) and Marco Andretti (230.544), who qualified third last year, will join Castroneves on Row 2.
Carlos Munoz, who started and finished second last year as a rookie, qualified on the inside of Row 3 (230.146) in the No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM car. Josef Newgarden, in his third season with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, qualified eighth (229.893) and JR Hildebrand (228.726), the 2011 race runner-up as a rookie and the first qualifier in this session, qualified ninth.