|Photo Credit: Chris Jones|
One week ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, the 33-car field was structured by two days of time trials. Sunday’s Fast 9 was established on Saturday by the quickest qualifiers of the day one qualifying session. Consisting of five Honda and four Chevrolet powered machines, qualifying for the momentous 2016 Memorial Day 500-mile event gave nine cars the opportunity for the coveted pole position with the best 10-mile run around the 2.5-mile oval track.
The first of the nine cars to post a pole-challenging run, Simon Pagenaud in the #22 car for Team Penske set the early benchmark with a 229.139-mile per hour average speed through a four-lap qualifying run. Carlos Munoz quickly displaced Pagenaud from the top spot piloting an Andretti Autosport machine. Two cars after Munoz, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden posted an effort resulting in a 230.700-mile per hour average qualifying time. Newgarden’s fast effort in the #21 Chevrolet-powered Dallara survived almost every attack.
Josef Newgarden’s hopes for a pole position at the 2016 Indianapolis 500 was defeated by the final car that took time on Sunday. Achieving a four-lap speed average of 230.946-mile per hour during day one qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, James Hinchcliffe was provided with the last available qualifying attempt for the 100th Indianapolis 500 field. Critically injured in a practice ahead of last year’s race at the Brickyard, the Oakville, Ontario native was rescued by the quick intervention of the track’s safety crew. Recovering to the ability he was able to rejoin his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports owned #5 Dallara-Honda for the 2016 season, Hinchcliffe returned to the 2.5-mile track having already proven himself victorious thanks to the support he received over the past 12 months. In a magical triumph, James Hinchcliffe logged a four-lap effort resulting in a 230.760-mile per hour average speed. Also recorded as a 2-minute, 36.0063-second total time, Hinchcliffe’s pole-winning advantage was only 0.0407 seconds better than Josef Newgarden.
|Photo Credit: Leigh Spargur|
"I came into this month hoping we'd have a new story to talk about after what happened last year and I think we did it," said James Hinchcliffe in a post-race interview in which he claimed to be lacking of words. The 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter effort was also the first-ever pole won by Hinchcliffe in his 79th race part of the Verizon IndyCar Series. James Hinchcliffe is now the second Canadian driver to start on the pole for the historic 500-miler (Alex Tagliani was the first to do so in 2011 coincidently also achieved in a Sam Schmidt owned race car). Representing Honda power, the pole position is the first for the Indianapolis 500 since an engine competition was reignited in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2012 season. Four of the top five starters for this year’s Indy 500 will be running Honda engines. Hinchcliffe teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Mikhail Aleshin from Russia qualified in the 7th position. Having suffered a major crash at the high-speed Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Aleshin’s return to IndyCar was similar to Hinchcliffe.
Josef Newgarden and Ryan-Hunter Reay will join James Hinchcliffe on the front row of the 2016 Indianapolis 500. The second row features Townsend Bell scoring a 4th place starting spot driving for Andretti Autosport and is positioned beside teammate Carlos Munoz.
Will Power achieving a 6th place starting position for the Indy 500 is the highest-positioned Team Penske driver on the grid for the 2016 race. In a rare development at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there will be no Team Penske supported cars on the front row. Since 2005, the only other time a Roger Penske owned entry was not found among the first three cars for the Indy 500 occurred during the 2011 race. Simon Pagenaud (winner of three events so far in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series) will roll off 8th, three-time Indy 500 winner for Team Penske Helio Castroneves is positioned in 9th and defending event victor Juan Pablo Montoya is starting 17th following unusual circumstance for the Columbian. A large black garbage bag on track flew under the #2 car of Montoya permitting the team to make a second qualifying attempt.
|Photo Credit: Eric McCombs|
Beyond the Fast 9, the remaining 24 cars including Juan Pablo Montoya still needed to perform a four-lap qualifying effort on Sunday. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports #77 machine driven by Oriol Servia recorded the fastest qualifying attempt of the non-Fast 9 cars allowing him to start 10th on the Memorial Day weekend. Servia is one of many limited term Verizon IndyCar Series rides assembled just for the Indianapolis 500. One of those entries is 2011 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year JR Hildebrand who will be starting a third entry for Ed Carpenter Racing in 15th place. Unable to perform a complete qualifying attempt on Saturday due to an accident linked to a potential aerodynamic component failure, Pippa Mann took 25th place on the time sheet positioned ahead of Graham Rahal.
Qualifying difficulties also affected 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon and his #9 Chip Ganassi Racing team. Suffering an engine failure in practice, the race team was able to quickly change to a new Chevrolet powerplant in time for qualifying. Dixon qualified 13th for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 in his 14th career start at the speedway.
Canadians will be sandwiching the 2016 Indianapolis 500 field. With James Hinchcliffe on pole, Alex Tagliani is starting in 33rd place following a warm-up lap crash. A 2011 Indy 500 pole sitter piloting a #35 machine for AJ Foyt Racing for the road course and 500-mile oval races at Indianapolis, Tagliani has been fighting an uphill battle in finding speed from his Dallara-Honda.
Drivers of six nations are represented on the first three rows of the 2016 Indianapolis 500 grid. The entire 33-car field features individuals from 10 nationalities competing for the biggest prize in motor racing. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 29th set for a 12:12 pm start.
2016 Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Pos # Driver Car # Engine Average Speed (MPH)
- James Hinchcliffe 5 Honda 230.760
- Josef Newgarden 21 Chevrolet 230.700
- Ryan Hunter-Reay 28 Honda 230.648
- Townsend Bell 29 Honda 230.481
- Carlos Munoz 26 Honda 230.287
- Will Power 12 Chevrolet 229.669
- Mikhail Aleshin 7 Honda 229.562
- Simon Pagenaud 22 Chevrolet 229.139
- Helio Castroneves 3 Chevrolet 229.115
- Oriol Servia 77 Honda 229.060
- Alexander Rossi 98 Honda 228.473
- Takuma Sato 14 Honda 228.029
- Scott Dixon 9 Chevrolet 227.991
- Marco Andretti 27 Honda 227.969
- JR Hildebrand 6 Chevrolet 227.876
- Charlie Kimball 42 Chevrolet 227.822
- Juan Pablo Montoya 2 Chevrolet 227.684
- Tony Kanaan 10 Chevrolet 227.430
- Sebastien Bourdais 11 Chevrolet 227.428
- Ed Carpenter 20 Chevrolet 227.226
- Gabby Chaves 19 Honda 227.192
- Max Chilton 8 Chevrolet 226.686
- Sage Karam 24 Chevrolet 226.436
- Conor Daly 18 Honda 226.312
- Pippa Mann 63 Honda 226.006
- Graham Rahal 15 Honda 225.847
- Matt Brabham 61 Chevrolet 225.727
- Bryan Clauson 88 Honda 225.266
- Spencer Pigot 16 Honda 224.847
- Stefan Wilson 25 Chevrolet 224.602
- Jack Hawksworth 41 Honda 224.596
- Buddy Lazier 4 Chevrolet 222.154
- Alex Tagliani 35 Honda No Time