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Carpenter Constructs Another Indy 500 Pole Win

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 18 2014

Ed Carpenter celebrates his pole victory Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Jim Haines photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

For the second year in a row, Indiana native Ed Carpenter will lead the field to the green flag at the Indianapolis 500.

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.

The owner/driver at Ed Carpenter Racing’s run bumped Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe from the top spot on the speed chart and claim the $100,000 Verizon P1 Award.

“Well, I knew what pole was going into my run,” Carpenter said. “I get my lap times when I cross the start/finish line every lap. Obviously saw on the third lap I dropped to a 230.8, which was kind of right at the limit. I’d been scrubbing speed like everyone. I changed my gear strategy on the last lap to maintain and not slide anymore. Basically I think I duplicated my third lap on the last lap.

“Once I saw we didn’t drop below that number, I thought we would be good. It’s hard to do math at 230.”

Carpenter is the 11th driver to earn back-to-back poles for the 500 Mile Race.

“It was a harder run than last year,” Carpenter said. “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. Now it’s all about the race, and we want to close the deal.”

“It’s tough to be upset.” Hinchcliffe said. “We knew Ed was going to be tough to beat anyway, and it wasn’t until the first three laps that I’d run that I thought, ‘Well, maybe we do have a shot at this!’ The car was a huge handful, but it needed to be-it was fast. That’s not a criticism of the car at all. Going into Turn 3 on that last lap, I was working on the tools like crazy and the thing stepped out a bit on entry. I had to take some wheel out of it, creating understeer on exit and I had to crack the throttle.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever been on pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway cracking the throttle over four laps, so I kind of knew right then and there. I was screaming in my helmet. At the same time, if the worst we’re going to start is second, then that’s awesome. Huge credit to Andretti Autosport and United Fiber & Data. I’m so happy to be on the front row again, just so disappointed we missed it again, but it is what it is. Congrats again to Ed.”

The Fast Nine Shootout closed two days of qualifications under a new format.

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.

“It was good the Verizon car was really really quick,” Montoya said. “Team Penske did an amazing job. Yesterday we missed it a little bit. We missed the car a little bit where we needed to be. The team did an amazing job today. Still we have a pretty quick car hopefully my guys can learn something for the Fast Nine my teammates Helio (Castroneves) and Will (Power) but I think that will put us in a good spot to start the race.”

Dixon’s run was a pleasant surprise after Saturday’s first round of qualifying.

“It was a big improvement from where we were yesterday and I’m happy with our result today,” Dixon said. “We still have another practice session tomorrow under the new format next week so we’re going to keep working hard to keep the Target cars going in the right direction. The car was really smooth to drive and I think we could have been faster if I hadn’t had to deal with a bit of a crosswind on my run. Overall a better day than yesterday.”

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.

Power (230.697 average) will start on the outside of Row 1 – his second front-row start.

“It would have been nice to put the No. 12 Verizon Chevy on the top of the board today, but we did what we needed to do,” said Power, who has earned four top-five starting positions in seven career Indy 500s. “A front row starting spot is great. All the Team Penske cars were really quick today. Now it’s time to start preparing for the race. It should be a good one.”

Castroneves, who has won the Indy 500 pole position four times, was clocked at 230.649 for four laps in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. He’ll start fourth in the May 25 race.

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.

“All of us have been working really well together since we got to Indianapolis,” stated Castroneves. “It definitely showed today. We had three of the top-five speeds on the day. Unfortunately, Juan Pablo (Montoya) wasn’t in the (Firestone) Fast Nine. The weather was perfect out there today. Everyone was running really low downforce and just going for the pole. Like Rick Mears used to say, there are two races, qualifying and the (Indianapolis) 500. The No. 3 Pennzoil Chevy is very fast and we are in good shape for next weekend.”

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.

Results of qualifying Sunday for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Rank, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and four-lap average speed in parentheses:

1. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 02:35.7992 (231.067)

2. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 02:35.9528 (230.839)

3. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 02:36.0488 (230.697)

4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 02:36.0812 (230.649)

5. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.1049 (230.614)

6. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.1526 (230.544)

7. (34) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.4224 (230.146)

8. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.5946 (229.893)

9. (21) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.3938 (228.726)

10. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 02:35.8396 (231.007)

11. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 02:35.8930 (230.928)

12. (26) Kurt Busch, Dallara-Honda, 02:35.9913 (230.782)

13. (98) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.1779 (230.506)

14. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.3480 (230.256)

15. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.4881 (230.049)

16. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 02:36.5750 (229.922)

17. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 02:36.6259 (229.847)

18. (16) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.6905 (229.752)

19. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.7132 (229.719)

20. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 02:36.7756 (229.628)

21. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 02:37.0328 (229.251)

22. (63) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, 02:37.0521 (229.223)

23. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 02:37.0671 (229.201)

24. (68) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 02:37.1038 (229.148)

25. (6) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.1990 (229.009)

26. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.2376 (228.953)

27. (5) Jacques Villeneuve, Dallara-Honda, 02:37.2400 (228.949)

28. (33) James Davison, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.2977 (228.865)

29. (41) Martin Plowman, Dallara-Honda, 02:37.3333 (228.814)

30. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.4028 (228.713)

31. (22) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.5931 (228.436)

32. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.8335 (228.088)

33. (91) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Chevy, 02:37.9501 (227.920)

(This story will be updated shortly)

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 18 2014
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