ANDERSON, Ind. – Defending Pay Less Little 500 champion Kody Swanson will lead the field to the green flag from the pole position Saturday at Anderson Speedway.
Swanson was one of the first cars to make a qualifying attempt on Tin Plate Pole Day on Thursday and set the mark to beat with four laps in 45.005 seconds at 79.99 mph.
The 15 fastest cars locked into the starting field with the remainder of the 33-car field for the 71st running of the Little 500 being set Friday.
Thirty-six cars took times on Thursday, with rookie Joey Schmidt currently sitting 33rd.
Swanson immediately left Anderson Speedway after setting his fast lap to compete in the final Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
It was Swanson’s first pole for the Little 500. He has won two of the last three Little 500 events.
While Swanson was driving back and forth between Anderson and the Indiana State Fairgrounds, two-time Little 500 race winner Chris Windom had a more hectic day.
Windom qualified 10th for the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Thursday afternoon and then took a helicopter to Anderson Speedway to qualify for the Little 500 in a car fielded by Anderson-based Goucher Racing.
Veteran driver Jerry Coons Jr. practiced and helped set up the car for Windom, who qualified fourth for the Little 500. After qualifying at Anderson Windom left the track to join Swanson at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the Hoosier Hundred.
Kyle Hamilton, who won the 2017 Little 500 and then missed last year’s race with a number of mechanical issues, qualified in the middle of the front row.
“It’s a big deal for the team,” Hamilton said. “We’re happy with the run today, we put last year behind us.
“We rebuilt the whole car and we’re back to where we belong,” he said. “We were shooting for a top ten qualifying run, but you always want to be on the front row.”
Hamilton said his car was consistent throughout the practice and qualifying session. Tyler Roahrig will start on the outside of the front row.
Donnie Adams Jr., returning to the Little 500 after missing a year, posted the 15th fastest qualifying time and was the final driver to lock himself into the Little 500 field.
“Our goal was to be in the top 15,” he said after riding that bubble for a lengthy period of time. “I turned four consistent laps, but left a little on the table. The car is faster than we qualified.”
There was an interesting twist as the time limit approached for qualifying. Shane Hollingsworth withdrew his earlier time that was sitting 30th on the speed charts and with just minutes remaining jumped into a back-up Gene Nolen owned car.
Hollingsworth qualified 17th.
A surprise was that Aaron Pierce qualified 21st on Thursday and Bobby Santos posted the 24th fast time. Both drivers normally qualify in the first three rows.