Twice Is Nice For Carpenter At Indy

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Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the fourth-fastest driver with a four-lap average of 230.649 mph in the traditional Pennzoil “Yellow Submarine” Dallara/Chevrolet. He is attempting to become the fourth four-time winner of the Indy 500 next Sunday.

“The car wasn’t as good as Saturday like we thought it would be,” Castroneves said. “We had a few small issues that we will go back and figure out. We were aggressive and you have to go for it. Now, we’ll focus on the race; see where we can do better in traffic. With the conditions changing form this morning, it’s hotter now and that definitely affects your run.”

Simon Pagenaud, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner, was fifth with a four-lap average of 230.614 mph in a Dallara/Honda and Marco Andretti was sixth with four laps averaging 230.544 mph in another Dallara/Honda to round out the second row.

Last year’s second-place finisher, Carlos Munoz, was seventh with a four-lap run at 230.146 mph in a Dallara/Honda for the inside of Row Three. Josef Newgarden is in the middle of that row with a four-lap average of 229.893 mph in a Dallara/Chevrolet. And J.R. Hildebrand was ninth in the Fast Nine with a four-lap average of 228.726 mph in a Dallara/Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.

2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch qualified 12th for his first Indianapolis 500. (Al Steinberg photo)
2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch qualified 12th for his first Indianapolis 500. (Al Steinberg photo)

Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, qualified 12th with a four-lap average of 230.782 mph in an Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda and will start on the outside of Row Four.

Busch is part of the fastest field in the history of the Indianapolis 500, with a field average of 229.382 mph. The previous record was 228.648 mph in 2002.

“It was a great qualifying effort,” Busch said. “This morning we originally didn’t plan on going out for practice in the morning but I asked the team to prepare the car and Craig Hampson thought it would be a good idea to get my IndyCar legs back underneath me after the All-Star Race last night. Each day has been a nice amount of progress I’ve shown the team.

“Here we are – Row Four of the Indianapolis 500. I’ll give this a thumbs-up.”

The pole winner realized the value of having a second driver at Indy to help the overall effort for the team.

“I think what you just said is key,” Carpenter said. “It’s been limited, a shortened month with the Grand Prix at the start of the month, missing some days for rain. We had a mechanical issue along the way that cost us some time.

To have JR out there getting work done all the way through has been great. We worked well together. Wish we could have got him on the front row with us. The shootout is tough. Conditions were hard today.

“Having him go first today also helped me because we made an adjustment. Even in the shootout I think we felt the benefit of having a teammate, but I wish we were both up here together.”

While the other drivers who went for the pole saw had their speeds drop off dramatically over the final two laps of their attempts, Carpenter was able to keep his speed up to close out an impressive pole-winning effort.

“They were both hard,” Carpenter admitted. “It was just a different position because when I made my run last year, we didn’t really have anything to lose. This year, being the last guy to go out, I think there was a little more pressure to not mess it up because I felt like going out that we had the speed to do that from where we were from yesterday to today with the different conditions. I felt like as long as we didn’t mess it up, we were going to be able to win the pole.

“That’s a different kind of pressure. But it was a more stressful run for me, for sure. I was low in four the last lap, but the car had been sliding so much, I was trying to give myself as much room as I could to make it through there without lifting because I was running out of room leading up to that. I was just using every inch of asphalt I could. I think I kept it off the concrete.

“Knowing what my RPMs were, what speeds I was carrying into turn three, I knew without lifting, we were going to be in good shape,” Carpenter admitted. “Going into Turn 3 is when it started, making sure I nailed those last two corners, then coming down the frontstretch could enjoy it knowing we were going to be on the pole for the second year.”

And he made it look remarkably easy.