Ed Carpenter ruined Roger Penske’s party Sunday by capturing the pole position for the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
In winning his third Indy pole, Carpenter opened his Fast 9 shootout with a lap of 230 mph and averaged 229.618mph in his Fuzzy’s Chevrolet to relegate Simon Pagenaud to the middle of the front row and teammate Will Power to the third slot. Josef Newgarden wound up fourth in third Team Penske entry.
“That first lap blew my mind,” said the 37-year-old veteran from Indianapolis who became the 10th driver with three poles at Indy. “I figured we could run a 229 (mph) based on last night because my run last night actually wasn’t very good.
“I knew had more left but I wasn’t expecting a 230; but the whole ECR team, especially the guys on my No. 20 car, they’ve put so much love into this car and it means everything to me to put us in a position like this.
“Of all the pole runs I’ve had here, this one, believe it or not, came the easiest.”
Pagenaud averaged 228.761mph in his Menard’s Chevy on a hot, humid afternoon but wound up a mile-an-hour shy of Carpenter’s speed.
“We tried to trim the car as much as we can to go super fast down the straightaway,” said the 2016 IndyCar champion. “I managed to go through the corners for four laps, but it’s holding your breath. Definitely the part that I hate the most is watching because you never know what the others have.
“But good job to Ed (Carpenter) and Chevrolet. They did a tremendous job giving us the power. And it is a front row. So, it’s a great job from Team Penske.”
Power, the only driver to be in the Fast 9 every May since this system began in 2010, posted a 228.607mph in the Verizon Chevy.
“The car was good, a lot better than practice today,” said the 37-year-old Aussie after securing his third fornt-row starting spot at Indy. “I think we added too much downforce there. So I was pretty stuck. But we’re in the front row and I’ve got a good car.”
Chevrolet-powered cars claimed seven of the Fast 9 with Team Penske getting all four cars in (Newgarden was fourth and three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves was eighth in the Pennzoil Special.
It was a command performance by Ed Carpenter Racing as Spencer Pigot snared the sixth starting spot and Danica Patrick was seventh in her return to Indy after a seven-year absence.
“Honestly, I said before I went out I hope it’s boring and it was pretty boring; as bored as you can be doing 230-plus,” said the only woman to ever lead the Indianapolis 500 after averaging 228.090mph in her Go Daddy Chevy. “Don (Halliday, engineer) did a good job on the call with the right balance. It was fairly consistent. All in all, a good feeling. It’s good to have that part done. I was pretty nervous.”
The biggest shocker of Sunday was Alexander Rossi. The 2016 Indy winner has been one of the quickest drivers all season and appeared to be heading for Row 4 before losing six mph from his first to his fourth lap in the NAPA Honda.
“Very frustrating, for sure – we were fighting for the fourth row and we end up in the last row,” said Rossi, who starts 32nd. “It was something pretty major and I knew on the warm-up last something was wrong.”
And the surprise story of Sunday was James Davison, who crashed Friday and came back to post the 19th-fastest average on Sunday in the Byrd/Belardi/Hollinger Chevy.