Despite new rules and a new format to qualifying, team owner and driver Ed Carpenter became the pole sitter for the Indy 500 for the second straight year in a row. After being quickest on Saturday with an average speed of 230.661 miles an hour, he was able to find more speed for Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout and averaged a speed of 231.067 miles an hour, which was enough to put him on the pole. He has become only the eleventh driver to earn two consecutive poles for the Indy 500 as well as the first to do so since Helio Castroneves did the same in 2009 and 2010.
Carpenter just beat out James Hinchcliffe, who qualified second with an average speed of 230.839 miles an hour. What makes Hinchcliffe’s second place qualifying result truly amazing is that just eight days before the Fast Nine Shootout, he suffered a concussion after a piece of debris hit his helmet during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and had had a few less practice days than the rest of the field as a result. To just miss out on starting on pole after such a hard hit to the head is a success in itself, and I would definitely take it.
Will Power qualified third with an average speed of 230.697 miles an hour and will start on the outside of Row 1. His teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who did not make the Fast Nine Shootout, qualified tenth with an average speed of 231.007 miles an hour, which put him on the inside of Row Four.
Another notable qualifier was NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, who will start in the twelfth position after averaging 230.027 miles an hour on Sunday. Busch, who drives for Stewart-Haas Racing in NASCAR full time, will be attempting the famed “double” on May 25th. And what is the double, you ask? This is when a driver attempts to drive both the Indy 500 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina, which both take place on the Sunday before Memorial Day. He will become only the fourth driver to attempt it. The last driver to try to do the double was Tony Stewart, Busch’s team owner in NASCAR, back in 2001. Good luck to Kurt Busch and I hope he does well, although I’m sure he’ll be exhausted by the end of the day.