99th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race qualifying results
Scott Dixon punctuated an eventful day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by earning the Verizon P1 Award for the pole position in qualifications for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, recorded a four-lap average speed of 226.760 mph on the 2.5-mile oval and will lead the 33-car field to the green flag in the 200-lap race May 24 (11 a.m. ET on ABC).
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power (226.350 mph) and Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud (226.145 mph) also qualified on the front row under a revised format prompted by a lengthy delay for track repairs following a spectacular crash involving CFH Racing co-owner/driver Ed Carpenter during a morning practice session along with aerodynamic and engine boost changes mandated by INDYCAR.
The scheduled two-day, multi-tier qualifying format was altered by rain May 16 after only two of the 34 entries made qualifying runs. By Verizon IndyCar Series rules, the lap times were deleted.
The scheduled May 17 “Fast Nine Shootout,” in which the top entries were slated to return to the track after their initial qualifying attempts for a single four-lap run to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner and the first three rows, was canceled. Instead, each entry took one qualifying attempt to lock in positions 1-30.
Positions 31-33, contested among four drivers, were determined in a separate session. Buddy Lazier, the 1996 Indy 500 winner, did not make the field.
Dixon, a three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, won the 2008 Indy 500 from the pole and has five top-five finishes in his 12 “500” starts. Dixon’s 22nd career pole broke a tie with 2003 Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran for 13th on the Indy car list. He also broke a streak of eight consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series races dating to August 2014 in which a Team Penske driver started from the pole.
"We're starting in the right place but it's still a long race. Hopefully, we can replicate what we did in 2008," said Dixon, who was presented a $100,000 check for winning the pole. "We're starting on pole for the Indianapolis 500 and now we just have to finish first. I’m just so proud of everybody at Team Target, whether it’s the engineers and everybody that has worked so hard to get the speed out of this car. It was definitely a tough day."
Power, who won the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis from the pole on May 9, matched his best Indy 500 start in 2010. Pagenaud's highest previous start was eighth in 2013.
"I think we have a good chance here, the entire team," Pagenaud said of the Team Penske foursome that also includes three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (qualified fifth) and 2000 race winner Juan Pablo Montoya (qualified 15th). "But the Indy 500 is a bit like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You're never ready enough for this race. There's so many things, nine to 10 pit stops, a yellow can fall out at the wrong time, something can happen in pit lane.
"It can go all right up until the race and something can happen at the last moment where you don't expect it. I'm just going to keep being like I have been, like pretty non‑emotional about it, and do my job, even though I'm super excited."
Click it: CFH Racing qualifies all three in top 12 || By the numbers
Lap speeds dipped in qualifications compared to practice because of measures taken by INDYCAR in response to the Carpenter incident in morning practice. The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet made rearward contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier and briefly became airborne. Similar separate incidents involving Castroneves and Josef Newgarden also occurred last week in practice.
As a precaution, INDYCAR announced:
-- The turbocharger boost level, which was increased from 130 kPa to 140 kPa for “Fast Friday” practice May 15 and scheduled qualifications May 16, was returned to 130 kPa. That relates to about a 40 horsepower reduction to the Chevrolet and Honda 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. The boost level will remain at 130 kPa for final practices May 18 and Coors Light Carb Day on May 22, as well as the race.
-- The aerodynamic bodywork package that Chevrolet- and Honda-aligned entries qualified with must be utilized in the race. Downforce was increased on the superspeedway platforms for added stability.
“That rule alone will cause the manufacturers to select certain components that are biased toward the race, which in effect will give them more downforce, which is really part of the exercise we’re going through here,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR president of competition and operations.
Castroneves turned a lap of 233.474 mph in practice May 16, which was the fastest lap at Indianapolis since the 1996 race when Eddie Cheever Jr. turned the top lap at 236.401 mph. Power recorded the best lap of the practice following the boost level and aerodynamic changes, 227.377 mph.
“At the end of the day, the race is the important thing. We want to qualify well, but winning the race is what we came here to do,” Andretti Autosport director of race operations and engineering Rob Edwards said.
Carpenter’s crew prepared a backup chassis in less than five hours and he participated in the practice preceding qualifications. The third driver in the qualifying order, he recorded a four-lap average of 224.883 mph and qualified 12th.
“When I was upside down in Turn 2 this morning, I didn’t know the delays in the schedule we would have. The way things worked out, it gave the team the time it needed to get the car ready to go,” said Carpenter, who earned the Verizon P1 Award at Indianapolis the past two years. “I didn’t think we expected to win the pole with the morning we had and I’m just thankful to the whole team.”
A practice session is scheduled for 12:30-4 p.m. (ET) May 18, and the 11 a.m.-noon (ET) session May 22 is the final practice.