Carpenter takes top spot in crash-marred Indy 500 qualifying

Ed Carpenter celebrates after he qualified with the fastest time during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Saturday, May 20, 2017 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Two-time pole winner Ed Carpenter had the fastest car in Indianapolis 500 qualifying with a four-lap average of 230.468 mph

INDIANAPOLIS — Ed Carpenter turned a tough draw into a winning hand Saturday.

Now he has to do it all over again.

The only full-time owner-driver in the IndyCar Series took advantage of a cooling early evening track for a four-lap average of 230.468 mph on the first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying, Takuma Sato was second at 230.382, and Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy winner, third at 230.333.

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished seventh at 230.034.

All of the times will be erased for Sunday's nine-car pole shootout when Carpenter chases his third pole in five years on his home track.

"I thanked my 7-year-old son for drawing last night," he explained at the end of a long and frightening day. "I told him, 'Let's get five' and then someone else got five. So I said, 'Let's try for six' and he got 60. I told him 'Well, you got one of the numbers right,' trying to stay positive. So he was the first one I thanked when I got out of the car."

Carpenter's initial misfortune wound up being a stroke of good luck on a day nothing came easy.

When drivers arrived at the 2 1/2-mile oval, they had to contend with the chilliest temperatures of the week.

Then came a rain delay that pushed the start of qualifying from late morning to the hottest part of the afternoon and forced the first drivers in qualifying line to make their only allowed attempt on a hot surface that lacked the grip needed to contend for the pole speeds.

That was followed by Sebastien Bourdais' astonishingly hard, head-on crash. The French driver had just completed his second straight lap over 231 mph when his car wiggled going through the second turn, slid up the track and slammed into the wall. It flipped before coming to a stop in the back straightaway.

Doctors at Indiana University Methodist Hospital said the 38-year-old driver has multiple fractures in his pelvis and a fractured right hip. Safety workers arrived on the scene in about 10 seconds but needed about 10 minutes to get Bourdais out of the car and onto a backboard.

Even the 36-year-old Carpenter, the stepson of Tony George whose family owns the track, was stunned.

"It takes your breath away," he said. "That was one of the biggest qualifying crashes I've seen around here. Hopefully, he's OK."

Seventy minutes later, Carpenter cast aside any lingering doubts, hopped in the No. 20 car and bumped Sato from No. 1 to No. 2 with another late-day daring run.

Four drivers later, Carpenter's teammate, JR Hildebrand, knocked Bourdais' teammate out of the shootout with his own strong run. Hildebrand wound up fourth at 230.205.

"We're always surprised by the Carpenter cars," Dixon said. "They run a different configuration and it's quite interesting to watch. It's fantastic around this place."

THE BREAKUP

Will Power has won poles at all three odd-numbered IndyCar races this season. Helio Castroneves earned the No. 1 spot in the two even-numbered races.

That streaked ended Saturday but not quite the way Team Penske envisioned.

Power was the only Penske driver to make the shootout after the IndyCar Grand Prix winner finished sixth at 230.072. Castroneves, who had an early draw, was 14th at 229.390.

Penske's other three drivers — Josef Newgarden, Juan Pablo Montoya and current points leader Simon Pagenaud — were 17th, 18th and 20th. They will have a chance to improve their starting spots when the starting grid for the May 28 race is set Sunday.

"The whole week, the car had pretty good balance but for some reason, we're not that fast," said Castroneves, a three-time 500 winner and a four-time Indy pole winner. "We trimmed out as much as we could. It is what it is."

NEW TAG TEAM

The IndyCar Series was overtaken by a new tag-team Saturday — Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport.

Together the two Honda-powered teams claimed six of the top nine spots.

Ganassi got Dixon and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy champ, into the shootout. A third Ganassi driver, Charlie Kimball, got bumped out of the shootout in the final half hour.

Andretti had four of his six drivers — Sato, Spain's Alonso, defending champion Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti — advance to Sunday's shootout.

"It was real was stressful, definitely," Alonso said. "With the weather this morning, it added some stress to the whole thing because you only have one shot and one attempt, and that creates stress. But the car felt good. I could improve a little bit, but I keep learning."

___

More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

Related News

Waymo self-driving minivan will start test drives...

Jan 9, 2017

Waymo, Google's self-driving car division, will start testing its new fleet of minivans on public...

Second VW employee arrested over emissions scheme

Jan 10, 2017

The Volkswagen executive who once was in charge of complying with U.S. emissions regulations was...

Honda goes higher-tech with Odyssey. Try the...

Jan 9, 2017

A veteran player in the small but scrappy minivan segment is getting a major upgrade

Ford adding diesel engine, other features to F-150

Jan 10, 2017

For the first time, Ford is offering a diesel engine on its F-150 pickup

Renault F1 team rocked as Vasseur leaves before...

Jan 11, 2017

A few weeks away from proudly unveiling its new car for the 2017 Formula One season, French...

US gov't accuses Fiat Chrysler of cheating on...

Jan 13, 2017

The U.S. government is accusing Fiat Chrysler of failing to disclose software in some of its...

You may also like these

IndyCar drivers eager to keep momentum as season...

Jan 18, 2017

IndyCar looks ahead with hope to another season and potential for growth

Jeff Gordon races in the rain at Daytona

Jan 29, 2017

The one thing Jeff Gordon didn't particularly want was to race in the rain at the Rolex 24 at...

Self-driving car prototypes need less human help,...

Feb 1, 2017

Self-driving car prototypes appear to be getting better at negotiating California streets and...

At a cool $250M, LA mega-mansion is priciest...

Feb 7, 2017

At $250 million, a new mega-mansion in Los Angeles' exclusive Bel Air neighborhood is the most...

Auto workers union preparing 'Buy American' ad...

Feb 16, 2017

The United Auto Workers union is preparing an ad campaign that urges people to buy U.S.-made cars...

Sign up now!

Action Swift is your fighting sports news site featuring boxing, fencing, martial arts, mixed martial arts and sumo. It’s time for some action!

Contact us: sales@actionswift.com