Scott Dixon won the pole for the 101st Indianapolis 500. [Russ Lake Photo]
by Mary Champion
Speedway, Ind., May 24 – Scott Dixon, the seventh driver out to qualify in the Sunday’s Fast Nine qualifying session, set a target for the last two qualifiers, Takuma Sato and Ed Carpenter, to shoot at as he posted a four-lap average of 232.164 mph, with all four laps over 232 mph.
Sato did not approach his speed, but Carpenter, who had set the fastest speed on Saturday at 230.468 mph, took a shot at Dixon, as his first lap was over 232 mph. However, his four-lap average speed was 231.664 mph, which was only good enough for second fastest, giving Dixon his second Indy 500 pole.
It was evident from the start of qualifying that speeds would be up significantly from the speeds posted on Saturday. The difference was attributable to far better weather and track conditions than existed on Saturday.
The first qualifier out in the first session was Zach Veach. Veach did not make a qualifying attempt on Saturday as his car was still being rebuilt following a Friday crash that caused major damage to the car.
His speed was the slowest of the day at 221.081 mph, which puts him in the 32nd starting position.
The Dale Coyne Racing car that was seriously damaged in Sebastien Bourdais’ violent crash on Saturday will fill the 33rd position. It was announced today that James Davison would replace Bourdais in the car. Davison has two previous Indy 500 starts, both for Dale Coyne Racing
Following the crash, Bourdais was taken directly to IU Methodist Hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured right hip and multiple pelvis injuries. Surgery was performed Saturday night to repair the pelvic injuries. Sunday morning, Bourdais was doing better than the doctors expected, but he will be out of the cockpit until his injuries heal.
As the drivers qualified in reverse order from 32nd to 10th, most of the qualifiers average speeds were up one to two miles per hour above their Saturday qualifying speeds.
In fact, five of the second tier qualifiers posted average speeds above 230 mph, which was faster than the ninth fastest qualifier on Saturday. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was 13th fastest on Saturday, posted a four-lap average of 231.442 mph, which would have put him in the fourth position on the grid if he had been part of the Fast Nine.
Takuma Sato, who qualified fourth, and the defending “500” winner Alexander Rossi, who were part of the Fast Nine, posted faster speeds than had been expected. Rossi was fastest for a short time and ended up on the outside of the front row, while Sato will start on the inside of row two.
Two-time Formula One champion, Fernando Alonso, a rookie at Indianapolis, who was part of the Fast Nine, will start the race from the middle of the second row.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of qualifying was, that of the five Penske Racing entries, only Will Power qualified for the Fast Nine. He was the slowest of the Fast Nine and will start outside of the third row.
The 101st Indianapolis 500 Line-up
# 9 Scott Dixon 232.164 mph
#20 Ed Carpenter 231.664 mph
#98 Alexander Rossi 231.487 mph
#26 Takuma Sato 231.365 mph
#29 Fernando Alonso 231.300 mph
#21 JR Hildebrand 230.889 mph
#10 Tony Kanaan 230.828 mph
#27 Marco Andretti 230.474 mph
#12 Will Power 230.200 mph
#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 231.442 mph
#19 Ed Jones 230.578 mph
#16 Oriol Servia 230.309 mph
# 7 Mikhail Aleshin 230.241 mph
#15 Graham Rahal 230.253 mph
# 8 Max Chilton 230.068 mph
#83 Charlie Kimball 229.956 mph
# 5 James Hinchcliffe 229.860 mph
#22 Juan Pablo Montoya 229.565 mph
# 3 Helio Castroneves 229.515 mph
#77 Jay Howard 229.414 mph
#24 Sage Karam 229.380 mph
# 2 Josef Newgarden 228.501 mph
# 1 Simon Pagenaud 228.093mph
#14 Carlos Munoz 227.921 mph
#88 Gabby Chaves 226.921 mph
# 4 Conor Daly 226.439 mph
#50 Jack Harvey 225.742 mph
#63 Pippa Mann 225.008 mph
#11 Spencer Pigot 224.052 mph
#44 Buddy Lazier 223.417 mph
#17 Sebastian Saavedra 221.142 mph
#40 Zach Veach 221.081 mph
#18 James Davison No Speed