Indy 500 Qualifying – Day One

Fernando Alonso on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

Fernando Alonso on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Andy Clary/ Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

The field for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 is set-almost-as 30 cars found spots for next week’s race on Day 1 of qualifying, but some shuffling still needs to be finished.

At times today’s track activity looked like a volleyball tournament with more bumping than perhaps anyone expected as 73 qualifying attempts were made.

Most of tomorrow’s Fast Nine Shootout qualifiers were determined early in the day’s competition as Ed Carpenter’s Chevrolet team put all three of its cars in the field of nine that will vie for the pole and front row spots at noon tomorrow. Chevrolet holds a 6-3 edge over Honda in the speedy group.

Florida’s Spencer Pigot was the quickest of the group with a four-lap average of 230.083 mph, faster than teammates Ed Jones and owner Carpenter, as the final order of the nine will be determined by single-car runs that will likely scramble the lineup.

“It’s great to be in the top group with all three of our cars,” said Pigot, now in his fourth IndyCar season. “We love to drive cars on edge and that’s what we do at Indianapolis.”

Team owner Carpenter noted that drivers and teams from around the world come here to compete and quickly learn that IndyCar racing is a tough place to play. “The quality of the teams in the series is world class as we saw today with so many fighting in and out all day to make the 30 qualifiers.”

Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, working hard to bring the McLaren team to IndyCar full time next year, learned perhaps the toughest lesson as he failed to qualify after making five attempts. “We were not competitive the whole week,” the Spaniard explained as he was forced to run a back-up car today due to a serious crash here last Wednesday. “We did the maximum we could do. Our performance has been weak all week. In some areas we were not totally prepared. It is frustrating. I hope for tomorrow to have another chance to be in the race and if we can’t make it, we can’t make it.”

Alonso, and six other non-qualifiers, hope to land the three open spots in Row 11 that will also be determined tomorrow during single car qualifying. That so-called “Last Row Shootout” will take place at 1:15 tomorrow after the Fast Nine are determined. Beside Alonso, others who will attempt to break into the 500 field include James Hinchcliffe, Pato O’Ward, Sage Karam and Max Chilton.

Nineteen-year-old rookie Colton Herta surprised the fans with a fifth place run that put him firmly in the Fast Nine group with a chance to win the pole tomorrow against the likes of Alexander Rossi, Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden and Carpenter. “I knew we could probably make the Fast Nine if we did it perfect. I didn’t think w were going to be fifth. I thought maybe seventh, eighth, ninth was more realistic,” said the Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver. “We trimmed it on the last run and just kind of went for it, and yeah, the car was even better than it was on the first run.”

Weather could become a determining factor tomorrow as thunderstorms and winds are predicted for the Indianapolis area tomorrow afternoon and could force IndyCar officials to use today’s speeds to determine the Fast Nine lineup. Should rain eliminate racing tomorrow, the Last Row Shootout would be held on Monday or the next dry day to fill the final 33-car Indy 500 field.

Spencer Pigot holds the fastest speed going into the potential of rain washing out Fast Nine competition and has some mixed feeling about a possible rain out. “If we have to qualify again for starting positions tomorrow, that’s cool. It would be nice to just kind of relax and not have to go again (if it rained) and be on the pole.” And will he be praying for some rainy weather tomorrow? “Yeah, maybe a little bit.”

Indianapolis 500 Day 1 qualifying
INDIANAPOLIS – Results of qualifying Saturday for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 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. (21) Spencer Pigot, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.4655 (230.083 mph)
2. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.4666 (230.081)
3. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.6210 (229.854)
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.6924 (229.749)
5. (88) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.8779 (229.478)
6. (63) Ed Jones, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.9035 (229.440)
7. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.9658 (229.349)
8. (27) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.0217 (229.268)
9. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.3427 (228.800)
10. (98) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.3729 (228.756)
11. (25) Conor Daly, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.4688 (228.617)
12. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.5337 (228.523)
13. (7) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.5415 (228.511)
14. (30) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.6874 (228.300)
15. (33) James Davison, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.7057 (228.273)
16. (14) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.8116 (228.120)
17. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.8226 (228.104)
18. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.8256 (228.100)
19. (77) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.9009 (227.991)
20. (23) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.9535 (227.915)
21. (48) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.9584 (227.908)
22. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.9799 (227.877)
23. (19) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.0815 (227.731)
24. (4) Matheus Leist, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.0911 (227.717)
25. (60) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.1063 (227.695)
26. (42) Jordan King, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.2402 (227.502)
27. (81) Ben Hanley, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.2542 (227.482)
28. (26) Zach Veach, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.3523 (227.341)
29. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.3834 (227.297)
30. (39) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.4203 (227.244)

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