Hinchcliffe fastest; Top nine locked in for Sunday Shoot-out

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James Hinchcliffe - Credit: Chris Owens / IndyCar

The drivers for Sunday’s top nine shoot-out for pole position have been confirmed following an exciting opening qualifying show on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

James Hinchcliffe was the pacesetter on Saturday, with the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport driver using two four-lap runs to jump to the top of the time sheets, having seen his first run fall short of what was required to make it into the shoot-out.  Hinchcliffe had a strong second run, ending with an average four-lap speed of 230.946mph.

Ryan Hunter-Reay required three runs to get enough speed in his Andretti Autosport entry to make it through, with the former Indy 500 winning ending second fastest with an average time across his four laps of 230.805mph.

Team Penske duo Will Power and Helio Castroneves also required two attempts to get into the shoot-out, but fifth placed Townsend Bell impressed many by setting an average speed of 230.452mph on his first run, which meant the Andretti Autosport driver did not have to return to the track for a second attempt.

Josef Newgarden also required a single run to end the day with the sixth fastest time for Ed Carpenter Racing, while Mikhail Aleshin made a last gasp jump into the top nine with his third run of the day for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, which bumped Andretti Herta Autosport’s rookie driver Alexander Rossi from the shoot-out.

The final two drivers to make it though were Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz, and Team Penske’s current Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Simon Pagenaud.

Rossi had looked certain to make it through only to be denied at the death, with he and the rest of the field now battling for positions ten through thirty-three on the grid during Sunday’s second qualifying.

Marco Andretti did all he could to make it through, but none of his three runs ultimately were enough, with the Andretti Autosport driver finishing just behind Rossi in eleventh.

There were also some big names that did not make it through to the shoot-out, including none of the Chip Ganassi Racing drivers. Scott Dixon was the best placed of the quartet in thirteenth, one place behind the fourth of the Penske drivers, Juan Pablo Montoya.

Thirty drivers set a lap time during the session, with Max Chilton not getting out on track following his earlier practice crash, while Pippa Mann crashed on her lap following an issue with her rear wing that broke on the exit of turn two.

The third driver not to register a time was Gabby Chaves, who had set a time only to withdraw it in order to attempt to make it through to the shoot-out, only to back out of it on his second lap when it was clear he did not have the pace to make it.

All the times now will be reset ahead of the important Sunday sessions, which will first determine positions ten through to thirty-three, before the top nine attack the track for a final time to determine who will start the 100th Indianapolis 500 from pole position, with Hinchcliffe hoping for further redemption from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway following his horror crash in 2015 that ended his season with a serious leg injury.

Ryan Hunter-Reay - Credit: Walter Kuhn / IndyCar

Ryan Hunter-Reay – Credit: Walter Kuhn / IndyCar

Indianapolis 500 Qualifying 1 Result

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