Final Qualifying Day For Indy 500

Simon Pagenaud - Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

Simon Pagenaud – Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

Today’s Fast Nine Shootout at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a reshuffling of the cards for Indianapolis 500 pole position supremacy. Turn loose the fastest nine qualifiers from yesterday’s first round of time trials and see who could beat Spencer Pigot for that coveted inside front row spot; the driver that would control the start of next Sunday’s 500-mile race. The question was, would there be drama in a repositioning of already qualified drivers? The answer was a resounding YES.

Simon Pagenaud, winner of the Indy Grand Prix a week ago, is on his way to an Indy sweep with a Shootout win over Ed Carpenter, a driver who many thought would be the fastest.

“It’s a very special time. It’s amazing; (team owner) Penske gives us the best,” shouted the newly crowned pole winner. “It’s been a very stressful month, stressful for everyone, teams, drivers, crews and even the fans.”

In 2018, another Team Penske driver, Will Power, swept the month of May activities. Pagenaud was asked if that feat gave him any extra drive to repeat what his teammate had accomplished.

“We have all the momentum we need after getting the Grand Prix and now the pole. I have the best cars and engineer; it’s certainly a team effort here. I’m honored to drive these cars, “ said Pagenaud who has now captured 11 career IndyCar poles. He put together a four-lap run averaging 229.992 mph., giving owner Roger Penske his team’s 266th Indy car pole.

Carpenter, a part-time oval track specialist for his team, was the third qualifier out and was easily faster than Sebastien Bourdais and Alexander Rossi. His run of 229.889 mph held up until Pagenaud came out four drivers later. “I really wanted to start on the pole, but the front row is still exciting. However, winning the race is the most important thing for our team,” noted Carpenter, whose three career wins have all come on ovals.

With an all-day rain requiring track drying, and no practice time scheduled before taking to the track, many thought it might be difficult for drivers to adapt to an untried surface, but Carpenter thought otherwise. “I thought the track was really good. The wind was up a bit and there seemed to have a bit more grip,” explained the Indianapolis native whose team ownership is shared with Tony George and Stuart Reed.

Front row Carpenter teammate Spencer Pigot, fastest yesterday, took a shot at Pagenaud’s speed, but must instead find clear sailing from his outside starting spot. “It was a little short result (229.826 mph) but we have a lot to look forward to,” said Pigot, who is spending his fourth year with the team. “I have no one else in front of me and a teammate next to me. The front row is fine.”

So, was there the expected drama in this form of qualifying? If you saw Pagenaud after it was clear that he couldn’t be beat for the pole, his emotional leap into the arms of his Penske crew left no doubt that it was a very special moment.

With the first nine qualifiers now in speed order, and the last row set to go after their elimination Shootout, Sunday’s 500 field is ready to go with an average speed of 228.240 mph. Just 1.8932 seconds separate Pagenaud and slowest qualifier Pippa Mann.



  • James Hinchcliffe has not had the best of times here in Indianapolis in recent years. A life-threatening crash in 2015 practice and failing to qualify in 2018, have not deterred the Canadian from returning to IMS for another shot. But a grinding, airborne qualifying crash Saturday at least slowed ‘The Mayor of Hinchtown’ down a bit. “It’s pretty much worst-case scenario. It’s pretty much our nightmare. We’ll get one back together (the backup car) and we’ll get back out there (Sunday).” I feel fine. I whacked my knee a little bit. That’s what happens when you hit a wall at 230 mph,” said the driver who knows what a crash feels like. “It’s part of our job. It’s what we do. It’s not the first time we’ve crashed. Probably won’t be the last. So, you just have to be able to put these things behind you and close your visor tomorrow and do it again.” Drive he meant, not crash.
  • NBC television’s racing pit reporter Jamie Little has gone into the bakery business with a new store on Indy’s northwest side. She and her husband Cody opened a “Nothing ‘bundt’ Cakes” franchise on Keystone Crossing last November; an idea that began in Las Vegas and has blossomed into a national chain. Husband Cody Selman runs their shop that serves high-end cakes and other bakery items including the German ‘Bundt’ cakes that melt in your mouth. Cody is also involved in racing as part of the pit crew for IndyCar driver Sage Karam. Little served the bakery to Indy media on a rainy day at the track Sunday and Danny Sullivan, among others, sampled the tasty desserts.
  • She’s raced several times at the Indianapolis 500, competed in various series here and in Europe, and scored her best Indy 500 finish (17th) in 2017, but Pippa Mann failed to make the Indy field in 2018 for Dale Coyne Racing, a failure that seemed to weigh heavy on the Ipswich, England native. So, putting her Marshall-Clauson Chevrolet safely into the field on the first day of trials seemed to make her quite relieved and a bit emotional. “We’re a one-off team running our first Indy 500, with a one-off driver. I’m an odd choice to a lot of people because I’m not a dirt racer, I’m a road racer who joined a dirt-racing team,” she explained. “After everything last year (missing the 500), what we were interested in was locking into the field today.” And that’s what they accomplished with a speed (227.244 mph) that put them safely in 30th starting spot, one of the locked-in positions for next Sunday’s race. “We had hoped for a little more speed than that in our qualifying run; we hoped that would be enough. We made it! We’re locked in! Thank you.” And there they were, emotions, but this year they were tears of joy.


Indianapolis 500 qualifying results
INDIANAPOLIS – Results of qualifying Sunday for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge NTT 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. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 2:36.5271 (229.992 mph)
2. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 2:36.5971 (229.889)
3. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 2:36.6402 (229.826)
4. (63) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 2:36.7629 (229.646)
5. (88) Colton Herta, Honda, 2:37.1465 (229.086)
6. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 2:37.4490 (228.645)
7. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 2:37.4659 (228.621)
8. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 2:37.6208 (228.396)
9. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 2:37.7240 (228.247)
10. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 2:37.3729 (228.756)
11. (25) Conor Daly, Honda, 2:37.4688 (228.617)
12. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 2:37.5337 (228.523)
13. (7) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 2:37.5415 (228.511)
14. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 2:37.6874 (228.300)
15. (33) James Davison, Honda, 2:37.7057 (228.273)
16. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 2:37.8116 (228.120)
17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 2:37.8226 (228.104)
18. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 2:37.8256 (228.100)
19. (77) Oriol Servia, Honda, 2:37.9009 (227.991)
20. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 2:37.9535 (227.915)
21. (48) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 2:37.9584 (227.908)
22. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 2:37.9799 (227.877)
23. (19) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 2:38.0815 (227.731)
24. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 2:38.0911 (227.717)
25. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 2:38.1063 (227.695)
26. (42) Jordan King, Honda, 2:38.2402 (227.502)
27. (81) Ben Hanley, Chevrolet, 2:38.2542 (227.482)
28. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 2:38.3523 (227.341)
29. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 2:38.3834 (227.297)
30. (39) Pippa Mann, Chevrolet, 2:38.4203 (227.244)
31. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 2:38.0747 (227.740)
32. (5T) James Hinchcliffe, Chevrolet, 2:38.2118 (227.543)
33. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 2:38.3311 (227.372)

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