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.
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.
Indianapolis 500 Pole Day Qualifying Result
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