Ed Carpenter paces day one of Indy 500 qualifications

Bret Kelley/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – One of Indiana’s finest is set to gun for a third Indianapolis 500 pole.

In a day that didn’t start until five hours later than scheduled after heavy morning rain, Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter laid down a blistering four laps in the waning moments to lead the field in Saturday’s first round of qualifications for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Carpenter’s average speed of 230.468 mph bested Andretti Autosport shoe Takuma Sato to pace the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock and secure the Ed Carpenter Racing driver into Sunday’s Fast Nine pole qualifying round.

“It was exciting, a little surprising,” Carpenter said. “I felt like we had a good car all week. I felt like JR, myself and Will Power had the most speed in the Chevy camp. Last night when we did our qual sim, I was falling off a little bit. I thought I could run 230 for a lap or two, but I wasn’t sure if I could run four.

“I think my seven-year-old son Friday when we were drawing for numbers, he was drawing. I was like, If you could pull, I told him five. Someone drew five. I was like, Let’s shoot for six. He drew 60. I was trying to be positive. Good job, son, you got one number right. He was the first person I thanked when I got out of the car because the conditions helped us there.”

Sato’s 230.382 mph average proved strong enough for second, with Scott Dixon (230.333), JR Hildebrand and defending race winner Alexander Rossi (230.148) rounding out the top five.

We go into very trim the car loose, but you have to use the tools depending on the wind direction. In fact, today every single corner I used the tools, of course, back and forth weight jacker.

Will Power (230.072) ended the session in sixth. Fernando Alonso’s 230.034-mph average proved good enough to elevate the McLaren Honda Andretti team into the Fast Nine in his oval qualifying debut, slotting in seventh, with Tony Kanaan (230.007) and Marco Andretti (229.924) completing the group that will contend for the Sunday’s pole.

For Alonso, a two-time Formula One world champion, the run was the latest in a week of learning including a new car, paddock and racetrack.

“I think the day was smooth for us,” Alonso said. “I think this morning when the weather came in, definitely put a little bit of a stress on everyone. Obviously you have only one attempt, one shot, so you cannot get it wrong.

We tried to put the run together. I think was not perfectly okay in terms of balance, in terms of driving myself, that I keep learning on this format. Useful run today, useful lessons. So tomorrow I will try to do better and find more speed.”

While stories such as Carpenter’s hometown pace and Alonso’s strength added a positive layer to the day’s story, the biggest story leaving the speedway was the crash of St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais. The Frenchman was on-pace to set quick time of the day when he fell victim to a vicious shunt on his penultimate qualifying lap.

The 37-year-old was carefully removed from his No. 18 Honda by the Holmatro Safety Team and transported to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital following the incident. He was noted to be “awake and alert” by an INDYCAR representative.

“That’s one of the biggest single-car qualifying crashes I’ve seen around here,” Carpenter said of the crash. “As soon as I saw him correct and the angle he was going in at, you knew it was going to be big. I’m hoping he’s okay. It was good to see him moving around the amount we did see him moving around. Hopefully we’ll get some good news tonight.”

32 of the 33 entrants ventured onto the racing surface for day one of qualifying. Zach Veach failed to set a time after crashing in a practice session. The Indy 500 rookie intends to set a time on Sunday.

The IndyCar paddock will return on Sunday to set the field for the Indy 500. The Fast Nine will contend for the pole, while positions 10-33 will battle to set the rest of the field.

Results

Pos No. Driver Four-Lap Average (Mph)
1 20 Ed Carpenter 230.468
2 26 Takuma Sato 230.382
3 9 Scott Dixon 230.333
4 21 JR Hildebrand 230.205
5 98 Alexander Rossi 230.148
6 12 Will Power 230.072
7 29 Fernando Alonso 230.034
8 10 Tony Kanaan 230.007
9 27 Marco Andretti 229.924
10 19 Ed Jones 229.717
11 83 Charlie Kimball 229.713
12 8 Max Chilton 229.636
13 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 229.533
14 3 Helio Castroneves 229.39
15 7 Mikhail Aleshin 229.217
16 15 Graham Rahal 228.835
17 2 Josef Newgarden 228.696
18 22 Juan Pablo Montoya 228.645
19 5 James Hinchcliffe 228.557
20 1 Simon Pagenaud 228.393
21 24 Sage Karam 227.943
22 77 Jay Howard 227.853
23 14 Carlos Munoz 227.438
24 16 Oriol Servia 227.15
25 50 Jack Harvey 226.894
26 88 Gabby Chavez 226.875
27 4 Conor Daly 225.912
28 17 Sebastian Saavedra 225.815
29 11 Spencer Pigot 223.631
30 44 Buddy Lazier 221.427
31 63 Pippa Mann 219.282
32 18 Sebastien Bourdais Crash

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