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First Day Of Qualifying For Indy 500 Is Washout

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 16 2015
Rain at Indianapolis Motor Speedway scrubbed qualifying Day 1 of qualifying on Saturday.

Rain at Indianapolis Motor Speedway scrubbed qualifying Day 1 of qualifying on Saturday.

RacinToday.com

Persistent afternoon rain canceled the remainder of Saturday’s scheduled track activity on the first day of qualifications for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, fast-forwarding the process to Sunday.

A revised schedule for Old National Armed Forces Pole Day calls for the 34 entries to make one bugindy500four-lap/10-mile qualifying attempt each on the 2.5-mile oval (10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT), followed by the “Fast Nine Shootout” (1:45-2:30 p.m.) in which the top nine cars return to determine the Verizon P1 Award for pole position and first three rows for the May 24 race. Finally, positions 31-33 will be determined during a 45-minute session (3-3:45 p.m.)

Qualifications will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and Watch ESPN from 10 a.m.-noon. Coverage will move to ABC-TV from 1-3 p.m. (EDT). Audio coverage will be available via the IMS Radio Network, plus Sirius and XM Channel 209 and www.indycar.com. Race timing and scoring can be accessed on www.indycar.com.

Reigning Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport (229.845 mph) and Carlos Huertas of Dale Coyne Racing (228.235 mph) were the only drivers to post four-lap qualifying runs in their Honda-powered cars before the rain fell. Those runs will not count since not everyone was able to make an attempt. Two groups of cars will be given practice time from 8-8:20 a.m. and 8:20-8:40 a.m. Sunday, prior to qualifying.

In Saturday’s practice, Helio Castroneves recorded a lap of 233.474 mph that, while unofficial, is the fastest lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the 1996 race when Eddie Cheever Jr. recorded a lap at 236.103 mph. That same year, Arie Luyendyk set the one- and four-lap qualifying records at 237.498 mph and 236.986 mph, respectively.

“That 233 mph number was pretty cool, but it was with a little bit of help (with a tow from cars in front of him),” said Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet. “The guys have really done an amazing job over the last couple of days since the (Wednesday) crash. To lose a day and still be on top of the practice speeds is a testament to how hard they worked. The weather, there is nothing we can do about the weather. We’ll just come back and see what’s in store.”

Castroneves is seeking to join A.J. Foyt Jr., Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners, and he’s in contention for pole history, too. With No. 1 qualifying efforts in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2010, the Brazilian is tied with Foyt and Rex Mays. A fifth would put Helio second among all-time Indy 500 pole winners, one behind Team Penske consultant Mears. Castroneves also could give team-owner Roger Penske a record-extending 18th pole position at the Indy 500.

Last May team-owner/driver Ed Carpenter earned the Verizon P1 Award in the Fast Nine Shootout with a four-lap average speed of 231.076 mph _ the second consecutive year that Carpenter started on-pole. Eleven drivers have won back-to-back Indy 500 poles but none has won three in a row. Twenty drivers have won the race from the pole, most recently Castroneves in 2009.

Carpenter is well-aware of the possible record book entry. “That’s what everyone has been asking me all week: ‘Are you going to win a third pole?’ ^” said Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Chevrolet. “I don’t know. If it happens, it happens. Last year we were pretty solid, so I think we can get in (to the Fast Nine Shootout), but we’ve got to play our cards right and find a little bit (of speed). The thing we’ve got to figure out is how to make the fourth lap still be good.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 16 2015
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