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Hinchcliffe Earns Pole For 100th Running Of Indy 500

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 22 2016
James Hinchliffe earned an emotional pole Sunday and will start next Sunday's Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

James Hinchliffe earned an emotional pole Sunday and will start next Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

One of the things that turns human beings into sports fanatics are great sports story lines. James Hinchcliffe is working on a beauty of a story this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

bugindy500On Sunday at IMS, Hinchcliffe won the pole for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

He did it in a Honda owned by relatively small Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and he did it a year after Hinchcliffe was nearly killed in a wreck at Indy when he was impaled by a piece of his car.

“You know,” Hinchcliffe said, “I came into this month really hoping we’d have a new story to talk about after what happened last year and I think we did it.”

Hinchcliffe, going out last among the nine drivers in the Fast Nine Challege, posted an four-lap average speed of 230.760 mph to earn the pole – his first in an Indy car.

Starting with him on the front row will be Americans Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Hinchcliffe was joined on pit road after securing the pole by his mother and father. Their family reunion was considerably happier than last year’s.

“A year ago they came here for a very different reason (to be with him in the hospital),” he said. “They were out of the country when I had my accident last year and I can’t imagine what that plane

Driver James Hinchcliffe and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team str on the pole in Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Driver James Hinchcliffe and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team str on the pole in Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

trip must have been like for them. Mom moved in on May 1st and said she wasn’t missing a single on-track action just in case I tried to kill myself again. Luckily that wasn’t the case.”

Just as he said that, his father arrived to hug his son.

“We did it dad,” Hinchcliffe said. “Pole of the 500. How about that? Not bad.”

IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud, a three-time winner in 2016, was first onto the track in the Challenge round as a result of him being ninth fastest Saturday. His four-lap average in his No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet was 229.139 mph. That was 1 mph slower than his average from the day before.

“The conditions changed drastically today from yesterday,” Pagenaud said. “We had cold weather, was gusty. Now it is hot and greasy on the race track.”

Pagenaud was quickly knocked off the provisional power by Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport, who was second in the qualifying line. Munoz average in his No. 26 Honda was 230.287.

Munoz’s speed stood until American Josef Newgarden, who came out fourth in his No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, posted at 230.700 mph.

“It was a good first lap,” Newgarden said. “I was kind of shocked by it.  I didn’t think we had enough for the Andretti guys and then I probably shouldn’t have doubted us.  I know we have great cars and a great crew behind us. I’m happy to see that first number and I think we fell off a little too much, but the car was amazing.”

 Newgarden withstood challenges from Townsent Bell, who went out fifth in an Andretti Honda; three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske; former series champion Will Power of Team Penske; former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Honda.

Then came Canada’s Hinchcliffe, who was fastest on Saturday.

Timing and scoring showed that Hinchcliffe was slightly behind Newgarden as the final of his four laps began. But on that last lap, Hinchcliffe, who called his car “a absolute smoke show”, tracked down and passed Newgarden.

The margin of .060 mph between Hinchcliffe and Newgarden was the narrowest in the history of the event.

Prior to the start of the Fast Nine Challenge, the drivers who were not among the fastest nine in Saturday’s qualifying session took to the track to decide the makeup of spots 10 through 33 on the starting grid.

Fastest in that session, and securing the No. 10 starting spot, was veteran Oriol Servia.

Defending race champion Juan Pablo Montoya had an interesting day. On the third lap of his run in the non Fast Nine session, his car ran over a plastic trash bag at speed. Montoya lifted immediately and his speed dropped well off the pace. He drove the car into the pits where team members checked his car. INDYCAR officials then ruled that he would be granted another full run.

“Whoever is spotting in Turn 3 is probably not paying attention,” Montoya said. “The bag was there. I saw it on the grass and I thought, ‘ooh, that’s odd’ and when I came to Turn 3 it was in the middle of the groove. I had nowhere to go. I just hit it and lost all of the front air from under the car. It just went straight. I got on the brakes, trying not to hit the wall. Luckily, we got another run, but they didn’t let us check the car. I think the wing or something bent with the force of the bag.”

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Results of qualifying Sunday for the 100th Running of Indianapolis 500 Verizon INDYCAR Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with rank, car number in parentheses, driver, aero-kit/engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 02:36.0063 (230.760)
2. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 02:36.0470 (230.700)
3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 02:36.0821 (230.648)
4. (29) Townsend Bell, Honda, 02:36.1950 (230.481)
5. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 02:36.3264 (230.287)
6. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 02:36.7471 (229.669)
7. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 02:36.8205 (229.562)
8. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 02:37.1096 (229.139)
9. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 02:37.1265 (229.115)
10. (77) Oriol Servia, Honda, 02:37.1638 (229.060)
11. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 02:37.5679 (228.473)
12. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 02:37.8747 (228.029)
13. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 02:37.9007 (227.991)
14. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 02:37.9161 (227.969)
15. (6) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 02:37.9809 (227.876)
16. (42) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 02:38.0180 (227.822)
17. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 02:38.1141 (227.684)
18. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 02:38.2906 (227.430)
19. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 02:38.2919 (227.428)
20. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 02:38.4325 (227.226)
21. (19) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 02:38.4566 (227.192)
22. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 02:38.8100 (226.686)
23. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 02:38.9851 (226.436)
24. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 02:39.0721 (226.312)
25. (63) Pippa Mann, Honda, 02:39.2877 (226.006)
26. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 02:39.4002 (225.847)
27. (61) Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, 02:39.4846 (225.727)
28. (88) Bryan Clauson, Honda, 02:39.8111 (225.266)
29. (16) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 02:40.1087 (224.847)
30. (25) Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, 02:40.2833 (224.602)
31. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 02:40.2878 (224.596)
32. (4) Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, 02:42.0498 (222.154)
33. (35) Alex Tagliani, Honda, No time (No speed)

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 22 2016
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