After this weekend's qualifying, Ed Carpenter captured his second straight pole for the Indy 500. The IndyCar Series team owner/driver was the fastest on Saturday by posting a four-lap average of 230.661 mph before shattering recent records on Sunday.
Day 2 Recap
As if Saturday's performance was not good enough, Carpenter exploded out of the gate on Sunday to seize his second consecutive Indy 500 pole thanks to a four-lap average of 231.067.
As IndyCar Series on Twitter illustrates, that's the fastest time in about a decade:
Carpenter was the last of the nine fastest racers from Saturday to hit the track and used his last lap to knock off James Hinchcliffe. Here is a look at the top 10 qualifiers for the May 25 race:
|1||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||231.067|
|2||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||230.839|
|5||Simon Pagenaud||Sam Schmidt||230.614|
|6||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||230.544|
|7||Carlos Munoz||Andretti Autosport||230.146|
|9||JR Hildebrand||Ed Carpenter Racing||228.726|
|10||Juan Pablo Montoya||Penske||231.007|
Note: Full starting grid can be found at indianapolismotorspeedway.com
For Carpenter, the triumph was business as usual, although he admits it was not as easy as his first pole victory from a year ago, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN:
"It was a harder run than last year," Carpenter said. "I knew what the average was, so I was just hanging on. I was surprised last year. Obviously, we felt good this year that we had a chance this year. But it's all about the race."
Interestingly enough, close behind Carpenter's time on Sunday was Juan Pablo Montoya, who was ineligible to win the pole and will start 10th.
The field is deep, but Carpenter's fastest time since 2003 is also interesting because that time around saw Castroneves go on to win the race itself. The hometown hero certainly has what it takes to win the checkered flag after two poles.
Day 1 Recap
Carpenter's totals on Saturday were good enough to have him edge out Indy 500 runner-up and Rookie of the Year Carlos Munoz, who posted an average of 230.460.
Carpenter's blazing time was indicative of a fast day on the track.
In all, 10 cars posted a speed over 230 mph. This marks the first time since 2003 that qualifiers have surpassed the 230-mph mark. IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com reported the fastest qualifiers.
Below is the full list of qualifiers:
|1.||E. Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||230.661|
|2.||C. Munoz||Andretti Autosport||230.460|
|4.||J. Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||230.407|
|6.||Mo. Andretti||Andretti Autosport||230.134|
|7.||S. Pagenaud||Sam Schmidt||230.070|
|9.||JR. Hildebrand||Ed Carpenter Racing||230.027|
|10.||K. Busch (R)||Andretti Autosport||229.960|
|11.||R. Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||229.899|
|12.||J. Hawksworth||Bryan Herta Autosport||229.816|
|14.||J. Wilson||Dale Coyne||229.618|
|15.||S. Dixon||Ganassi Racing||229.283|
|16.||M. Aleshin||Sam Schmidt||229.091|
|17.||R. Briscoe||Ganassi Racing||228.825|
|18.||T. Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||228.786|
|19.||C. Kimball||Ganassi Racing||228.710|
|20.||G. Rahal||Rahal Letterman||228.664|
|21.||S. Karam||Dreyer & Reinbold||228.650|
|22.||T. Bell||KVSH Racing||228.508|
|23.||T. Kanaan||Ganassi Racing||228.435|
|24.||S. Bourdais||KVSH Racing||228.388|
|25.||P. Mann||Dale Coyne||228.358|
|26.||S. Saavedra||KVSH Racing||228.294|
|27.||J. Villeneuve||Sam Schmidt||228.171|
|28.||J. Davison||KVSH Racing||228.150|
|29.||O. Servia||Rahal Letterman||228.034|
|30.||C. Huertas||Dale Coyne||227.991|
|32.||M. Plowman||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||227.043|
|33.||B. Lazier||Lazier Racing||226.543|
The Fast Nine, in case you're wondering what I'm talking about, is part of the new qualification process.
Saturday provided a chance for drivers to ensure a spot in the 33-car race. The top 30 cars are all guaranteed a spot in the race.
It was also an opportunity to earn a shot at capturing the pole. The nine fastest from Saturday will be competing against each other on Sunday for the pole.
So, we have to wait until Sunday to find out the pole winner for the May 25 race.
Veteran racer and analyst Eddie Cheever is on board with the changes:
#Indy500 I like this new qualifying format for the Indy 500.Last hour will be very busy. And they have to do it again tomorrow.— Eddie Cheever Jr (@eddiecheeverF1) May 17, 2014
Carpenter's strong effort won't give him much of an advantage on Sunday other than the fact he will be the last one on the track. Carpenter knows he is far from guaranteed at landing the pole.
IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com passed along this quote from Carpenter:
It's stressful qualifying here and the less you have to do it the better. I think we have a good chance for the pole, but the field is very tight this year. There are so many good cars and drivers out there. It will come down on who gets it right on the day for the pole. It really comes down to being perfect for four laps.
Sitting just outside of the Fast Nine is NASCAR star Kurt Busch. He was temporarily in the Fast Nine but was bumped out as the day progressed. Unlike the other drivers, Busch was not able to attempt to better his time.
The Indianapolis Star's Jim Lefko brings us up to speed on why Busch wasn't able to stick around:
Too bad Kurt Busch had to leave Indy for NASCAR all star event. He wound up 10th, and probably would have been in Fast 9 had he stuck around— Jim Lefko (@jimlefko) May 17, 2014
So, it is back to the track Sunday for Busch, Carpenter and all the other racers. The marquee action will come with the Firestone Fast Nine pole shootout, which will run from 2 p.m. ET to 2:45 p.m. ET.
Anyone in that field has a great shot at the pole. There was just the tiniest of margins separating the racers on Saturday. Still, given his recent qualifying performances at Indy, Carpenter is a strong bet to remain the fastest.