- Jul 23, 2014
Even after extensive delays caused by weather and last-minute regulation changes on the day of Time Trials, Scott Dixon could not be slowed down as he took pole position for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
The 2008 winner and pole-sitter completed his four-lap run at an average speed of 226.760 miles per hour, to start on the front row. Alongside Dixon will be the winner of last week's Grand Prix of Indianapolis and defending IndyCar Series champion, Will Power, and his Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, last year's Indy GP winner.
Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing cars locked out the top five spots on the grid, with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves lined up in the middle of the second row, surrounded by 2013 champion Tony Kanaan on the inside, and Justin Wilson on the outside, the fastest Honda qualifier in his first Indy 500 start for Andretti Autosport.
Saturday's qualifying session was rained out, which meant that the entirety of Time Trials to set the field for next weekend's race was condensed into a single Sunday running.
But Ed Carpenter's heavy crash on Sunday morning - the third rollover incident involving a Chevrolet driver in four days of running, following Castroneves' shunt on Wednesday and Josef Newgarden's crash on Thursday - forced IndyCar officials to make drastic changes in the qualifying procedures on the day of qualifications. The "Fast Nine" shootout was scrapped, each car would get just a single run for pole, and all cars had to qualify with their race setups and reduced turbo boost pressure.
For now, the 1996 qualification records of Arie Luyendyk will stand, as IndyCar, Chevrolet, and Honda seek a safer solution for next year's race. Worryingly, James Hinchcliffe, who is set to start from the outside of row eight, sustained an injury to his upper left thigh that required surgery after a hard crash in Turn 3 during Monday practice, and his status for Sunday remains doubtful.
Of note, defending Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay will have a long climb to defend his title, as he'll start the #28 DHL Dallara/Honda on the inside of row six - but last year, he won from the seventh row of the grid in a thrilling last-laps duel with Castroneves. Reigning Indy Lights champion Gabby Chaves was the fastest of the two Indy 500 rookies in this year's field and starts in the middle of the tenth row. Bryan Clauson, the two-time USAC midget and sprint car champion - a "throwback" in this year's field - held onto the 33rd and final starting spot after 1996 winner Buddy Lazier failed to post a four-lap run in the final minutes.
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Image Credit: INDYCAR
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