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Indy 500 Qualifying 2015: Pole Results, Starting Grid and Pre-Race Storylines

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIMay 18, 2015

Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, prepares to drive during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Qualifying for the 2015 Indianapolis 500 took place on Sunday, and past champion Scott Dixon grabbed the pole for the 99th annual race.

Dixon's four-lap average speed of 226.760 mph was enough to edge out Will Power for the first position, and Simon Pagenaud will join the pair in the front row. Check out the complete list of qualifying results:

2015 Indy 500 Qualifying Results
Pos. Driver Average Speed (mph)
1 Scott Dixon 226.760
2 Will Power 226.350
3 Simon Pagenaud 226.145
4 Tony Kanaan 225.503
5 Helio Castroneves 225.502
6 Justin Wilson 225.279
7 Sebastien Bourdais 225.193
8 Marco Andretti 225.189
9 Josef Newgarden 225.187
10 J.R. Hildebrand 225.099
11 Carlos Munoz 225.042
12 Ed Carpenter 224.883
13 Oriol Servia 224.777
14 Charlie Kimball 224.743
15 Juan Pablo Montoya 224.657
16 Ryan Hunter-Reay 224.573
17 Graham Rahal 224.290
18 Carlos Huertas 224.233
19 Simona de Silvestro 223.838
20 James Jakes 223.790
21 James Davison 223.747
22 Alex Tagliani 223.722
23 Sage Karam 223.595
24 James Hinchcliffe 223.519
25 Conor Daly 223.482
26 Townsend Bell 223.447
27 Takuma Sato 223.226
28 Pippa Mann 223.104
29 Gabby Chaves 222.916
30 Sebastian Saavedra 222.898
31 Jack Hawksworth 222.787
32 Stefano Coletti 221.912
33 Bryan Clauson 220.523
Source: IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com

With two runner-up finishes also on his Indy 500 resume, there's no denying Dixon is a real threat to take the checkered flag next Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, plenty of top competition looms, and a new champion can emerge from anywhere in the pack of this quality field of 33.

Now that the starting positions are known, let's take a look at the biggest storylines for the latest, Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Dixon Seeks To Go 2-For-2 on Pole

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

The last time Dixon won in 2008, he sat on the pole. Helio Castroneves claimed the checkered flag the next year starting in first, but no one has driven into victory lane from the pole since then.

So there's a bit of recent history working against Dixon in his starting spot. From 2006 through 2012, Dixon placed no worse than sixth. The past two starts haven't been as kind, with Dixon finishing 14th and then 29th in 2014.

Dixon spoke about his qualifying once he'd locked up the pole, per The Associated Press' Michael Marot:

I was definitely a little shocked with the first number when I saw it. I thought the steering wheel was broken but broken in a good way. Yeah, it's a tough week, no matter which way you look at it, the curveballs that you get with the weather, but you understand that's part of the month of May.

Qualifying was delayed when two-time reigning pole-sitter Ed Carpenter was involved in a scary crash during practice, per ESPN.com.

Thankfully Carpenter walked away and still managed to qualify 12th, but the altered schedule made matters more difficult for everyone involved. The fact that Dixon was able to overcome the unforeseen obstacles and qualify at such a tremendous speed bodes extremely well for his chances at winning.

It will be interesting to see whether the pole will be kinder than it's been in recent years, off a previous race where Ryan Hunter-Reay came from 19th place to finish in the lead.

Can Castroneves Claim Win No. 4?

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Helio Castroneves is in pursuit of history yet again as he tries to become just the fourth driver in history to have four Indy 500 victories on his resume.

Renowned for climbing the fence when he wins, Castroneves is in position to do that once more after qualifying in fifth place. An IndyCar Series title is one achievement Castroneves hasn't managed over the years, but he can take a huge step in that direction with another triumph this next Sunday.

Castroneves was also involved in a stunning practice crash earlier this week. The 40-year-old emerged intact and seemingly in good spirits.

With the expectations a champion of Castroneves' caliber merits, he expressed some disappointment after qualifying in the second row:

Helio Castroneves @h3lio

Oh man....I really thought we had it today but you know what... I'm ready for the 500, thanks everyone for the support!!

Although he started on the pole in his most recent win in 2009, the first two wins for Castroneves were in 2001 and 2002, when he started in 11th and 13th, respectively. Beginning the 2015 race close to the happy medium of those two seems suitable.

It's been a while since Castroneves drank the milk at the end of the Indy 500 rainbow. One has to believe he's due for some more magic.

Will Will Power Break Down The Door?

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

An amazing qualifying run for Will Power continued at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. Power hasn't won an Indy 500 before, but he did just have a triumphant ride at the track in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Pulling off an Indianapolis sweep would make the maiden victory for Power in this race even sweeter. The No. 12 car has certainly looked strong in every phase thus far leading up to the actual event.

Penske Racing highlighted how Power hung with the likes of Castroneves and Pagenaud during practice:

Team Penske @Team_Penske

.@simonpagenaud and @h3lio join @12WillPower in top five combined practice speeds. Next up @IMS is a historic #Indy500 qual session @3:15 pm

Observe how Power has fared from rather favorable qualifying positions in recent outings:

Will Power's Indy 500 Results Since 2009
Year Start PositionResult
2009 9 5
2010 2 8
2011 5 14
2012 5 28
2013 6 19
2014 3 8
2015 2 ?
Source: IndyCar.com

Everything seems to go right for Power leading up to the Indy 500, yet he can't seem to find a way to truly contend for the top prize. Perhaps this year will be different, off the momentum of his most recent IndyCar performance.

Power still has plenty of opportunities to get it done in the circuit's most prestigious race. However, only so many cars present him with a real chance, and it appears his 2015 vehicle is slated to be among the best if he can properly execute a game plan.

It's easier to scheme when getting a head start on just about everyone else. Dixon won't be easy to get past, but Power has the confidence as the reigning IndyCar champion to bring it home at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this time around.

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