Hinchcliffe storms to Indianapolis 500 pole

James Hinchcliffe - Credit: Walter Kuhn / IndyCar

James Hinchcliffe secured his maiden Indianapolis 500 pole position after a brilliant four-lap run on pole day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway denied Josef Newgarden top spot.

Hinchcliffe was the last car out on track during the fast nine shoot-out for pole, and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport drove a consistent run that averaged 230.760mph, just 0.060mph faster than Newgarden.

The Canadian’s return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the stories of the month of May following his horror crash during practice in 2015, which left him on the sidelines not just for the Indy 500 but for the remainder of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Now Hinchcliffe can put everything that happened a year ago to the back of his mind and he can now focus on putting the effort in to next weekend’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Newgarden had looked set for his own first pole position at IMS, with the Ed Carpenter Racing driver on top through most of the fast nine shoot-out until Hinchcliffe’s lap, but the young American will start the Indy 500 from the middle of the front row.

The front row will be completed by former Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’s four lap average of 230.648mph denied his Andretti Autosport team-mate Townsend Bell a first front row start.

Bell will instead start on the inside of row two, alongside another Andretti Autosport driver in Carlos Munoz, while Will Power was the best of the Team Penske drivers in sixth.

Mikhail Aleshin, the last driver to make it into the fast nine shoot-out during Saturday’s first qualifying session, will start seventh for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, while Team Penske duo Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves complete row three.

Josef Newgarden - Credit: Jim Haines
Josef Newgarden – Credit: Jim Haines / IndyCar

Just prior to the fast nine drivers taking to the track, the rest of the grid was finalised, and it was Oriol Servia who ended the first session with the fastest time, completing a good day for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, with the Spaniards setting a four lap average of 229.060mph.

Alexander Rossi will start eleventh for Andretti Herta Autosport, and was the leading rookie qualifier for the race, while row Takuma Sato of AJ Foyt Racing will complete four.

Scott Dixon was the leading Chip Ganassi Racing qualifier in thirteenth, the inside of row five, but the New Zealander will be relatively happy with this outcome after his team had to change the engine on his #9 machine in between practice and qualifying.

Marco Andretti will join Dixon on the fifth row in his Andretti Autosport machine, while JR Hildebrand of Ed Carpenter Racing will start fifteenth.

Juan Pablo Montoya was allowed two attempts at qualifying after his first was affected by a black garbage back that had flown from the grandstands onto the track and got caught on his car. Despite this he was unable to better the middle of row six, either side of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan.

Sebastien Bourdais, Ed Carpenter and Gabby Chaves will share row seven, while Max Chilton, Sage Karam and Conor Daly will be on row eight. Row nine will see Pippa Mann alongside Graham Rahal and Matt Brabham, while Bryan Clauson, Spencer Pigot and Stefan Wilson will line-up on the penultimate row of the grid.

The only driver not to set a time was Alex Tagliani, who crashed his AJ Foyt Racing entry at exit of turn four, meaning the one-time pole sitter of the Indianapolis 500 will start right at the back of the thirty-three car field next Sunday, alongside the two slowest competitors during the qualifying session Jack Hawksworth and Buddy Lazier.

But no one could deny Hinchcliffe his moment, and it is hard to imagine that the smile from the popular Canadian’s face will disappear at any time between now and race day next Sunday.

Ryan Hunter-Reay - Credit: David Yowe / IndyCar
Ryan Hunter-Reay – Credit: David Yowe / IndyCar

Indianapolis 500 Pole Day Qualifying Result

15James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports230.760mph
221Josef NewgardenUSAEd Carpenter Racing230.700mph
328Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport230.648mph
--Row Two-Row Two-
429Townsend BellUSAAndretti Autosport230.481mph
526Carlos MunozCOLAndretti Autosport230.287mph
612Will PowerAUSTeam Penske229.669mph
--Row Three-Row Three-
77Mikhail AleshinRUSSchmidt Peterson Motorsports229.562mph
822Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske229.139mph
93Helio CastronevesBRZTeam Penske229.115mph
--Row Four-Row Four-
1077Oriol ServiaESPSchmidt Peterson Motorsports229.060mph
1198Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Herta Autosport228.473mph
1214Takuma SatoJAPAJ Foyt Enterprises228.029mph
--Row Five-Row Five-
139Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing227.991mph
1427Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport227.969mph
156JR HildebrandUSAEd Carpenter Racing227.876mph
--Row Six-Row Six-
1642Charlie KimballUSAChip Ganassi Racing227.822mph
172Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLTeam Penske227.684mph
1810Tony KanaanBRZChip Ganassi Racing227.430mph
--Row Seven-Row Seven-
1911Sebastien BourdaisFRAKVSH Racing227.428mph
2020Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing227.226mph
2119Gabby ChavesCOLDale Coyne Racing227.192mph
--Row Eight-Row Eight-
228Max ChiltonGBRChip Ganassi Racing226.686mph
2324Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing226.436mph
2418Conor DalyUSADale Coyne Racing226.312mph
--Row Nine-Row Nine-
2563Pippa MannGBRDale Coyne Racing226.006mph
2615Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing225.847mph
2761Matt BrabhamAUSKV Racing/Pirtek Team Murray225.727mph
--Row Ten-Row Ten-
2888Bryan ClausonUSADale Coyne Racing/Jonathan Byrd's Racing225.266mph
2916Spencer PigotUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing224.847mph
3025Stefan WilsonGBRKV Racing Technology224.602mph
--Row Eleven-Row Eleven-
3141Jack HawksworthGBRAJ Foyt Enterprises224.596mph
324Buddy LazierUSALazier/Burns Racing222.154mph
3335Alex TaglianiCANAJ Foyt EnterprisesNo Time