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Hometown Hero Carpenter Wins Pole For 2018 500

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 20 2018

Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter won the pole for next Sunday’s running of the Indianapolis 500. (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

As a track-rat child, Indianapolis-born Ed Carpenter had explored just about every square inch of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The one place he has not been is in Victory Circle on Memorial Day weekend. He will attempt to remedy that next Sunday and he will do so as the pole winner for the 2018 Indianapolis 500.

The pole is Carpenter’s third at the speedway and was a massively popular one among those in the grandstands.

His four-lap average of 229.618 mph was easily faster than that of his nearest competitor in Sunday’s Fast Nine Pole Day session – Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske.

“It means everything to me to finish in a position like this,” Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 Chevrolet of the Ed Carpenter Racing team he owns, said.

“It’s always nice to start up front because you can control things a little bit. It feels good knowing I’ve got clean air in front of me as long as I get a good start.”

If it looked easy for the oval-course specialist, it was because it was easy.

“Of all the pole runs I’ve had here, this one, believe it or not, has been the easiest,” Carpenter said.

Joining Carpenter and Pagenaud on the first row of next Sunday’s race will be Team Penske’s Will Power.

The Fast Nine’s chase for the pole began at 4 p.m. The cars went out in reverse order of how they qualified on Saturday.

First out was Danica Patrick of Ed Carpenter Racing. Her four-lap average in the No. 13 Chevrolet was 228.090 mph.

“I had one little slip of the front end on the exit of (Turn) 1 and that was the only non-boring part,” she joked.

Patrick sat P1 until Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who went out third, laid down an effort at 228.405 mph in his No. 1 Chevy.

“I don’t know if that will be enough for pole,” Newgarden, the defending series champion, said. “I think we had a little bit more in it that we didn’t eke out…but it was an overall good run.”

Newgarden survived a challenge by Spencer Pigot of ECR, whose average speed was 228.107 mph.

Newgarden next survived a challenge from Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, whose average speed was 228.142 mph in the No. 18 Honda. “It was hard,” Bourdais said. “It was really hard today. Downforce was light. The car was very much on top of the track and sliding around.”

Next out on the track was Newgarden’s teammate, Will Power in the No. 12 Chevrolet. With an average speed of 228.607 mph, Power moved to P1. “I think we added too much downforce there,” Power said, indicating he felt the pole was not to be his.

The first to challenge Power was another teammate, Simon Pagenaud in the No. 22 Chevrolet. On his first lap, Pagenaud became the first to top 229 mph. When his run ended, his speed was 228.761 mph and he had claimed the provisional pole. “We tried to trim the car to be as fast was we can to be super fast down the straightaway, managed to go through the corners for four laps but it’s holding your breath.”

Indianapolis native Carpenter of was the first to challenge Pagenaud and it didn’t take long to show big speed as his first lap topped 230 mph. His average at the end of the run was 229.618 – almost a full mph faster than Pagenaud.

“The first lap blew my mind,” Carpenter said.

The final driver out and the only one capable of knocking Carpenter off the pole, was three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet. With an average of 227.859 mph, he fell well short of the pole.

Castroneves said that his car was trimmed all the way out as his team knew it was going to take big speed to knock off Carpenter. But, the car, with minimum downforce proved too loose.

“It’s a shame we didn’t get the pole position,” Castroneves, who is no longer driver the full Indy Series season, said, “but I prefer the win over the pole position.”

He will start P8 next weekend.

The non-Fast Nine portion of qualifying Sunday belonged to A.J. Foyt Racing as Tony Kanaan earned a P10 starting spot and Matheus Leist P11.

“We worked so hard and that’s all we had for today,” a happy Kanaan, driver of the No. 14 Honda, said after posting an average speed of 227.664 mph. “Yesterday we missed the Fast Nine by just a little bit. We were supposed to qualify at 1 p.m. but because of the rain delay we qualified in different conditions. My fourth gear was a little too long and I couldn’t make it by thousandths of a second. So today felt like a win for us.

“We’re working real hard, man. We don’t have as big of a crew as other teams do. We built two brand new cars, A.J. bought two news cars for me and Matheous. The least I could do for them was to work really hard and at least put this car in the top 10.”

Leist, in the No. 4 Foyt Honda, will be the highest starting rookie in the field.

“The rookie did well,” Kanaan said. “He’s the fastest rookie. That was my goal, to try to guide him through. He’s doing pretty good so far as well.”

Perhaps the most disappointed driver in the non Fast Nine group was Alexander Rossi, driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda. The winner of the 2016 race, Rossi still start in the middle of the last row.

“We’ll fix it for sure,” Rossi, whose Sunday run was at 224.935 but who was much faster on Saturday, said of whatever caused his falloff in speed. “I thought we were fighting for a position on Row 4 but now I’m in the last row so that’s just the way this place is. There are a lot of curveballs that can happen around here and that’s what makes the Indy 500 what it is.”

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INDIANAPOLIS – Results of qualifying Sunday for the 12nd Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race presented by PennGrade Motor Oil Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with rank, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 2:36.7818 (229.618 mph)
2. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 2:37.3696 (228.761)
3. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 2:37.4757 (228.607)
4. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 2:37.6151 (228.405)
5. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 2:37.7965 (228.142)
6. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 2:37.8208 (228.107)
7. (13) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 2:37.8326 (228.090)
8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 2:37.9924 (227.859)
9. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 2:38.4076 (227.262)
10. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 2:38.1278 (227.664)
11. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 2:38.1922 (227.571)
12. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 2:38.3894 (227.288)
13. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 2:38.5908 (226.999)
14. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 2:38.7389 (226.788)
15. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 2:38.8304 (226.657)
16. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 2:38.9003 (226.557)
17. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 2:39.0119 (226.398)
18. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 2:39.0835 (226.296)
19. (33) James Davison, Chevrolet, 2:39.1128 (226.255)
20. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 2:39.1430 (226.212)
21. (29) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 2:39.2585 (226.048)
22. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 2:39.2874 (226.007)
23. (25) Stefan Wilson, Honda, 2:39.3889 (225.863)
24. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 2:39.4171 (225.823)
25. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 2:39.4696 (225.748)
26. (64) Oriol Servia, Honda, 2:39.5044 (225.699)
27. (66) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 2:39.7032 (225.418)
28. (7) Jay Howard, Honda, 2:39.7245 (225.388)
29. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 2:39.7433 (225.362)
30. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 2:39.7679 (225.327)
31. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 2:39.8193 (225.254)
32. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 2:40.0462 (224.935)
33. (17) Conor Daly, Honda, 2:40.4073 (224.429)

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 20 2018
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