Ed Carpenter will start on pole position for this year’s 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 after a stunning lap on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter put down an incredible four-lap run to take the pole position, sending the spectators into a frenzy every time he crossed the yard of bricks to complete another lap.
Entering the second and final day of qualifying, Helio Castroneves was looking to keep a hold of the top spot on the time-sheets after finishing Saturday as the fastest driver. The “Fast Nine” went out in reverse order for the pole-deciding session.
As the final few drivers made their runs, Will Power was in the top spot before his team-mate Simon Pagenaud took over with what many thought would be a tough run to beat; setting a 228.761-mph average in his #22 Chevrolet.
Then Ed Carpenter came out onto the Speedway. The #20 Ed Carpenter Racing car looked fast, but nobody expected his first lap of the run to be as good as it was; a staggering 230.088-mph average. The next lap was a fraction under the 230-mph mark, but he kept his speed up high enough to complete the run with a 229.618-mph average. It was a fantastic run for the thirty-seven-year-old.
After Carpenter, just Castroneves was left to run at the end of the day. He was hoping to be able to pull off an upset by beating Carpenter’s astonishing run, but it was not to be. His first lap of the run was way down on Carpenter, with the remaining three laps also not on the pace to challenge for pole. Helio eventually came home with a 227.859-mph average, meaning that Ed Carpenter had claimed his third-career Indy 500 pole position; his first since taking back-to-back poles in 2013 and 2014.
Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Will Power will share the front-row when the green flag flies on Sunday. Reigning IndyCar series champion Josef Newgarden will head the second-row, just ahead of Sebastien Bourdais and Spencer Pigot; with the latter two drivers taking their best ever starting positions for the Indianapolis 500.
The third row of the grid will be lead by the returning Danica Patrick. After impressively making it into the “Fast Nine” in Saturday’s first half of qualifying, Patrick kept the speed up in her #13 GoDaddy ECR Chevrolet to take seventh on the grid; just ahead of fellow returnee Helio Castroneves in eighth place. The final spot in the “Fast Nine” was occupied by Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon.
Before the shoot-out for pole position, the remaining twenty-four drivers took to the track to decide the order for positions ten through thirty-three.
A.J. Foyt Enterprises were the “best of the rest”, with Tony Kanaan and rookie Matheus Leist taking tenth and eleventh on the grid respectively. Leist will be the highest placed rookie in the field when the race get’s going on Sunday.
The next best-placed rookie will be Zachary Claman De Melo, who also put in a fantastic effort to put himself thirteenth on the grid for his first Indy 500. Two more rookie drivers also made it into the top twenty, with Kyle Kaiser and Robert Wickens set to line-up in seventeenth and eighteenth.
Carlin will start their first Indy 500 solidly in the midfield. Charlie Kimball took his #23 Chevrolet to fifteenth on the grid, with team-mate Max Chilton due to line-up in twentieth place; the highest placed British driver. Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato will start just behind Kimball in sixteenth.
Perhaps the best recovery of the week went to James Davison in the #33 car. Davison crashed his Dale Coyne Racing Honda in “Fast Friday” and barely escaped being bumped from the field on Saturday after setting the thirty-third fastest time, just one-hundredth of a second faster than James Hinchcliffe who was shockingly eliminated from contention. Despite the near-miss on Saturday, Davison was in fine form yesterday. He would put in a great run to take nineteenth on the grid.
Further back, it was a day to forget for a number of drivers who you might’ve thought would be further up the order. Ed Jones, who finished his first Indy 500 last year in second place, will start all the way down in twenty-ninth, just ahead of Graham Rahal in thirtieth; who will be hoping to be much more competitive in the race than he was in qualifying.
The driver that is, perhaps, the most out of position is Andretti Autosport‘s Alexander Rossi. The championship contender ended Saturday’s “Bump Day” qualifying just outside of the top nine in tenth place. His team threw caution to the wind with their setup in the quest to take tenth again yesterday, but the #27 Honda was far too loose for Rossi’s liking. After a sketchy lap, Rossi would qualify thirty-second, with only his friend, Conor Daly, behind him on the grid.
With the grid set, just two more practice sessions remain before the drivers take part in the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Cars will be on track later today for, what is usually, one of the more entertaining practice sessions; as teams and drivers run in packs to simulate race conditions. Following that, just “Carb Day” final practice on Friday will be left on the schedule before Sunday’s much anticipated five-hundred-mile race.
2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 – Qualifying results:
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