INDIANAPOLIS – Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was the fastest driver during Bump Day qualifications for the 102nd running of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing on Saturday.
Castroneves posted a four-lap average of 228.919 mph in the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet.
Relegated to Indy-only duty in the Verizon IndyCar Series after being shifted over Team Penske’s IMSA program this year, Castroneves made his attempt before two rain delays interrupted the action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The first rain delay was for two hours and 20 minutes. The second rain delay was for 51 minutes.
“It was a great event,” Castroneves said. “Very tough. Now having the Bump Day … what a stressful day for everyone. It’s tough for Hinch. Sounds like that car should be in the grid, but that’s the name of the game. You got to understand the rules. Especially the Fast Nine, as well. So many people took chances to be in the Fast Nine.
“For me and Team Penske, I have phenomenal teammates, which helps the program keep going forward. Obviously, (on) my run earlier, the weather was much more consistent. When you have that kind of scenario, it helps a lot.”
Two-time Indy 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter was second-quick with a four-lap run of 228.692 mph in the No. 20 Chevrolet.
“I always look forward to the Shootout,” Carpenter said. “It’s a fun format. I’m really excited that we have all three of our cars represented with myself, Spencer Pigot and Danica. That’s exciting.
“It was a weird day. A long day. I knew it was going to be a long wait, with us drawing the last number,” Carpenter added. “Then with the two rain delays, it just made it even longer. It’s hard. This place can play tricks on you the longer you sit and wait. It was nice to finally get out there, albeit at maybe not the best time of the day. I’m really happy to be in the position we’re in as a team, though, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Those two drivers anchor the Fast Nine that will fight it out for the Indy 500 pole on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.
Positions 10-33 will be determined by four-lap qualification runs beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske was third at 228.304 mph, followed by Penske teammate Will Power’s four-lap average of 228.194 mph. Chevrolet swept the top four positions.
Sebastien Bourdais was fifth in the No. 18 Honda at 228.090 mph, followed by Spencer Pigot’s Chevrolet with a four-lap average of 228.052 mph.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden’s Chevrolet was seventh at 228.052 mph and Scott Dixon’s Honda came in eighth with a four-lap average of 227.782 mph.
Danica Patrick, making her first Indianapolis 500 start since 2011, completed the Fast Nine with a four-lap run at 227.610 in the No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.
“This exceeded my expectations,” Patrick said. “I have high hopes of doing well here. That’s why I was fortunate enough to be able to drive for Ed. They always have great cars, especially here at Indy. They’re always very strong. But to think that I was going to come back and be in the Fast Nine right off the bat … I mean, I’m going to tell you, I was doing 208 at the test the first day and thought I might not be able to do this. (To run) 228 is much better.
“I think after yesterday, having done 228 with three quarters of the track ahead of me open, I got that feeling of, ‘All right, I’m okay now.’ At the end of the day, it was very stressful, but I’m looking forward to a fun day tomorrow. I was just getting familiar with everything.”
Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport was the fastest of the drivers that missed the Fast Nine. He went out in the final minutes of qualifications to improve to 10th with a four-lap run at 227.561 mph in the No. 27 NAPA Honda.
Graham Rahal was another driver that went out late to try and improve his speed, but would have probably been safe either way.
James Davison, who crashed on Friday, was the slowest driver to make the field from Saturday’s qualifications, with a four-lap average of 224.798 mph in the No. 33 Foyt/Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi Chevrolet.
James Hinchcliffe and Pippa Mann were the two drivers bumped out of the Field of 33 on Saturday. For more on that story, click here.