Carpenter surprise pole winner for Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Ed Carpenter will start on the pole position for the first time in the Indianapolis 500 after pulling off a stunning victory in Saturday's time trials at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Carpenter, an Indianapolis native, posted a four-lap average of 228.762 mph during the "Fast Nine" shootout, which was delayed two hours due to rain earlier in the day. The Fast Nine had been scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Before the Fast Nine, Will Power from Team Penske had the top qualifying speed of 228.844 mph, while Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending IndyCar Series champion, was second on the charts at 228.282 mph. Carpenter placed fifth at 227.952 mph. Drivers from Penske and Andretti were the favorites to win the pole here.
Carpenter claimed his second career IndyCar pole. His first one came on Sept. 3, 2010 at Kentucky Speedway. He also has two wins in the series -- last September in the season-finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. and 2011 at Kentucky. Carpenter's first pole for the Indy 500 comes in his 10th start. He had qualified no better than eighth in his previous nine races at this famed 2.5-mile oval.
"This is a lot of fun, and this is really the start of a dream come true," Carpenter said. "To win the pole at Indy is such a big deal. It's bigger than the two race wins I've had before. It was fun to get into the shootout, and the guys (No. 20 team) did a great job and made great calls on the car going into the shootout. We didn't want to be over-aggressive, and we didn't want to be conservative. They made smart calls, and the pole goes to the team big time."
Carpenter, who is the stepson of IndyCar founder Tony George, is the lone team owner/driver in the series. His pole win at Indy earned him a $100,000 bonus and 15 driver championship points.
"I love racing here, and I love going fast here," he said. "I've been in position to qualify in the top-10, but this is my first year where we had a chance at pole, and I thought, and really believed, that we had a chance at the pole, so we were aggressive all day long."
Carpenter's pole speed was the highest at Indy since Sam Hornish Jr. (228.985 mph) in 2006. Hornish won the race that year.
Rookie Carlos Munoz, who is driving the No. 26 car for Michael Andretti's team in this race, qualified second at 228.342 mph, while his teammate, Marco Andretti, will start on the outside of the front row after his lap average of 228.261 mph.
"To be honest, there are no words to describe how you feel to be on the front row," said Munoz, who is the current points leader in the Indy Lights Series. "We knew from the beginning that we had a really good car, a really fast car alone. I'm really happy."
E.J. Viso, A.J. Allmendinger and Power qualified fourth through sixth, respectively, to make up row two. Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 winner, and James Hinchcliffe, who won the most recent IndyCar race earlier this month in Brazil, secured the third row.
"I was just hanging on to it, and I was glad to finish the run, to be honest," Power said. "I couldn't do another corner. There was just too little grip."
Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti failed to make it into the Fast Nine at Indy for the second straight year. Dixon qualified 16th, while Franchitti, who won the Indy 500 for the third time last year, was one spot behind in 17th. They will share row six with A.J. Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato, who is the current points leader.
Chevrolet drivers dominated this year's Indy 500 qualifying, claiming the top-10 starting positions. Alex Tagliani from Bryan Herta Autosport was the highest finishing driver in a Honda-powered car, placing 11th.
Ryan Briscoe, the 2012 pole winner, dropped to 23rd after his third qualifying attempt. Briscoe is making his first IndyCar start this season, driving the No. 8 car for Ganassi. He was released from Penske at the conclusion of last season.
Twenty-four drivers secured their starting positions for the May 26 race at Indy. The remainder of the 33-car field will be determined in Sunday's "Bump Day," which is schedule to begin at noon (ET).