With seven Chevy-powered cars filling the Fast 9, earning pole position for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 when qualifying resumes on Sunday looks like it will require a Bowtie.
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves set the fastest average on Saturday with a four-lap run of 228.919mph, owner/driver Ed Carpenter was second with a 228.692mph blast around IMS, Penske’s Simon Pagenaud (228.304mph) and Will Power (228.194mph) were third and fourth, and it took Honda’s Sebastien Bourdais to put the defending race-winning manufacturer on the board in fifth (228.090mph).
Chevys from Ed Carpenter Racing and Penske filled sixth, seventh and ninth, and Honda’s Scott Dixon completed the roster of nine who will vie for pole in his Chip Ganassi Racing entry.
An advantage of almost one mile per hour separated Castroneves and Bourdais, and with a new universal aero kit that has significantly tightened the gaps throughout the field, that margin between engine suppliers is remarkable.
“We’re the same aero kit, so was that the aero kit in the past or the work Chevy’s done?” Castroneves told RACER while trying to establish where the separation has been found.
“I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what, when you’re here and you see the Chevy organization, and how they work so well with Team Penske and make all their teams fast, it’s very impressive.”
Pigot was all smiles after easily making the Fast 9 in his ECR Chevy.
“Chevy has put in a lot of hard work over the winter and really brought us a really strong package,” he said. “Put a Chevy in the back of an ECR car, and it usually means good things. The car has been solid and comfortable; we haven’t had any dramas so far. If you look at the past, ECR has a great record of qualifying here and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
With pole seemingly out of reach, Dixon has pinned his hopes on a strong race-day performance.
“I think it’s going to be tough, to be honest,” he said. “[Honda’s] pushing as hard as they can. We can’t control these things. They do their best, and maybe the competition has done a slightly better job leading up to the race. I think our race package is pretty good, but obviously right now, it’s not ideal.”