INDIANAPOLIS – Ed Carpenter Racing’s impressive ability to go fast at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was never more evident than in Saturday’s qualifications for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
All three Ed Carpenter Racing drivers made the Fast Nine and will have a chance to fight it out for the Indianapolis 500 Pole Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Spencer Pigot was the fastest driver in Saturday’s seven-hour session with a four-lap average of 230.083 mph in the No. 21 Chevrolet. Ed Jones, another Ed Carpenter Racing driver, was sixth with a four-lap average of 229.440 mph in the No. 63 Chevy and owner/driver Ed Carpenter was seventh after running four laps at 229.439 mph in the No. 20 Chevrolet.
“The team does a nice job, and Chevrolet has done a great job, as well, but I think all three of our cars are fast,” Carpenter said. “They’ve all been fast all week. It’s been hard — Ed (Jones) has been quick a lot of the time. We’ve all felt like we had a quick car.
“I’m so happy that we’re all in the position that we are, in the top nine, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I know Spencer is hoping it rains. I think the rest of us are hoping it doesn’t rain so we can try to beat him. No, there are no team orders.”
There is a chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday. If the Fast Nine is rained out, the top nine positions in the starting lineup for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 will be set, but the Last Row Shootout the final three spots in the field will be held on the first clear day, likely Monday.
Is Pigot hoping for rain?
“Yeah, maybe a little bit,” Pigot said. “Obviously it’s great to be on top of the speed charts and also to have all three of our Ed Carpenter Racing cars in the Fast Nine for the second year in a row. It’s just a testament to all the work everyone does in the shop throughout the off-season and leading into this race. Chevrolet obviously has done a great job, as Ed said, and we obviously have three really quick cars. So, if we have to qualify against for starting positions tomorrow, that’s cool. You know, we love driving these cars on the edge, and that’s what we get to do in qualifying at Indy.
“Obviously if I had to pick one way or the other, it would be nice to just kind of relax and not have to go again and be on pole, but if we get to go again, I’ve got all the confidence in the world that we’re going to be able to challenge for the pole.”
Team Penske’s Will Power was second quick with four laps at 230.081 mph, followed by teammate Simon Pagenaud’s 230.081 mph. A third Team Penske driver, Josef Newgarden, was fourth at 229.749 mph with rookie Colton Herta’s Honda fifth at 229.478 mph.
Jones is sixth followed by Carpenter, with Alexander Rossi’s Honda eighth with four laps at 229.268 mph. Sebastien Bourdais’ Honda rounds out the Fast Nine at 228.800 mph.
Pippa Mann, who missed last year’s 33-car starting lineup, made the field this year and is locked into the 30th starting position.
Big-name drivers who have yet to make the 33-car starting lineup include McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, the last driver bumped out of the field, and NTT IndyCar Series regular James Hinchcliffe, who crashed on the second lap of his qualification attempt in turn two.
Arrow Schmidt Peterson prepared the backup Honda, but he was unable to crack the top 30 in speeds.
Others who have to participate in the Last Row Shootout include Max Chilton and Pato O’Ward from Carlin, part-time driver Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing and Indy 500-only driver Sage Karam.
The Last Row Shootout and Fast Nine will be one attempt per driver until each driver gets to make an attempt.