Carpenter takes top spot in crash-marred Indy 500 qualifying

May 23, 2017, 11:14

However, he believed the #18 Dale Coyne Racing-Honda of Bourdais would have been the vehicle to beat if not for the Frenchman's huge shunt that left him with multiple fractures of his pelvis, and a broken hip.

Fernando Alonso qualified 5th with an average of 231.300.

The green flag flies on the 101st Indianapolis 500 next Sunday at 11 a.m.

Now he has to do it all over again.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver set an average of 231.300mph on his four-lap qualifying run, while New Zealander Scott Dixon took pole at 232.164mph.

Takuma Sato starts fourth on the inside of row two, beside team-mate Alonso, who will have J.R. Hildebrand outside him.

The third-fastest driver in first-day qualifying Saturday, Dixon was the seventh of nine to make an attempt in the Fast Nine Shootout under late-afternoon in sunshine today.

Regardless, the result represents a fine reward for the Andretti team after Alonso required an engine change ahead of Q2, with the Spaniard revealing it crew members of all six entries to get him back on course.

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"When I saw that first number, I was like, 'Wow, this is impressive!' So obviously a huge thanks to Honda, too".

When drivers arrived at the 2 1/2-mile oval, they had to contend with the chilliest temperatures of the week.

For a few minutes, it looked like two-time Formula One champ Fernando Alonso had a chance to become the first rookie to win Indy's top starting spot since 1983. Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter took the second spot on the grid with a 232.664 miles per hour four-lap average. It flipped before coming to a stop in the back straightaway. The French driver also fractured his right hip in a frightening crash Saturday. Safety workers arrived on the scene in about 10 seconds but needed about 10 minutes to get Bourdais out of the auto and onto a backboard.

"It takes your breath away", he said. I actually thought there was something wrong with my dash to start with, (I thought) '232? After Dixon posted his 232.164, the question on everyone's mind was: What does Ed Carpenter have up his sleeve? Will Power was the only driver of the five to make the Fast Nine, and he'll start ninth.

Houston isn't sure exactly when McCann was injured, but manager A.J. Hinch said that McCann told the team he wasn't feeling like himself on Saturday. "It's fantastic around this place". That was the fastest qualifying run since Helio Castroneves won the pole in 2002 at 231.725.

James Hinchcliffe will start 17th, Indiana-native Conor Daly 26th, and 1996 Indianapolis 500 victor Buddy Lazier will start 30th.

That streaked ended Saturday but not quite the way Team Penske envisioned.

Power was the only Penske driver to make the shootout after the IndyCar Grand Prix victor finished sixth at 230.072. Castroneves, who had an early draw, was 14th at 229.390.

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Neither had enough to keep Dixon from becoming the fifth three-time pole victor in 500 history.

Dixon's third Indy pole since 2008 - the same year he won his one and only 500 - would have been hard to predict when the season kicked off in March.

We knew it was gonna be quicker today with the wind. "It is what it is". (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 02:35.5163, 231.487. 4.

Less than three hours before Sunday's pole shootout began, Honda engineers were concerned enough with some data from Alonso's earlier practices that they made a decision to install a new engine.

Alonso's success and that of his teammates was an affirmation of his choice to not only try his hand at the 500 but to do it with Andretti Autosport.

"There's nothing really to say about it because everything felt normal", Alonso said when asked about the engine.

"I think (it) was not perfectly OK in terms of balance, in terms of driving myself, that I keep learning on this format".

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