Saturday, May 21, 2016

100th Indianapolis 500 Saturday Qualifying Preview

After a surprising Fast Friday, intrigue hangs over Indianapolis 500 qualifying
The first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying takes place on Saturday and the field will be set for the 100th Indianapolis 500. The top nine drivers from Saturday will advance to the Fast Nine session to be held at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. The remaining drivers who are 10th-33rd on Saturday qualifying will re-qualify on Sunday with the slowest car going first and those 24 drivers will set the starting order from row four to 11.

The qualifying draw was held after Friday practice. Tony Kanaan's primary car was drawn first with Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Simon Pagenaud's primary car being drawn second. Kanaan won the 2005 pole position and has three front row starts but has not been on the front row since 2007 when he started second. Nine times Kanaan has started within the first three rows. He was 20th fastest in Friday practice. Pagenaud has improved in Indianapolis 500 qualifying each year he has been at the Speedway. He has qualified 23rd, 21st, fifth and third in his four Indianapolis 500 appearances. Pagenaud could join Jean Chassagne and René Thomas as Frenchmen to win Indianapolis 500 pole position. Pagenaud was 13th yesterday.

Marco Andretti is third in the line of primary cars. The third generation driver was one of nine drivers to run a lap over 231 MPH on Friday as Andretti was fifth quickest. He has started within the first three rows in eight of his ten Indianapolis 500 starts but Andretti has only one front row start. He started third in 2013. His grandfather Mario won pole position for the Indianapolis 500 three times.  Rookie Alexander Rossi is the next of the primary cars. He was the top rookie in Friday practice as he rounded out the top ten. Rossi could become the first Californian to win Indianapolis 500 pole position since Joe Leonard in 1968.

Sébastien Bourdais' primary car is drawn fifth among the primary cars. Last year, Bourdais started a career best seventh in the Indianapolis 500. His previous best start was 15th. The Frenchman was 21st on Friday. Josef Newgarden was second quickest yesterday at 232.344 MPH. Newgarden has qualified on row three in three of his four Indianapolis 500 starts. He started ninth in 2012 and eighth and ninth the last two years.

Oriol Servià is drawn seventh among the primary cars and the Spaniard was a surprise 11th quickest in Friday practice. He qualified third in 2011 but his next best start is 13th, which occurred in 2013 and 2015. J.R. Hildebrand is the next after Servià. He was 14th in Friday practice. Hildebrand has qualified in the top ten for the last three Indianapolis 500s. Mikhail Aleshin will qualify after Hildebrand. The Russian was ninth latest in Friday practice.

Will Power was drawn as the tenth primary car to qualify. Power was fastest on Friday at 232.672 MPH. The Australian has qualified in the top nine the last seven years but has not won the pole position. He has qualified second twice including last year. Hélio Castroneves is drawn to be the car after his Penske teammate. The Brazilian could move into sole possession of second all-time in Indianapolis 500 pole positions. He is currently tied with Rex Mays and A.J. Foyt with four pole positions. Castroneves was 15th in Friday practice.

Bryan Clauson is drawn next. He has qualified on the final row in each of his first two Indianapolis 500 starts. Rookie Matthew Brabham is 13th in the order of the primary cars. His grandfather Jack qualified 13th on his Indianapolis 500 debut in 1961 and his father Geoff qualified 15th for his first Indianapolis 500 in 1981.

Scott Dixon could become the 12th driver to win successive Indianapolis 500 pole positions and could become the ninth driver to win at least three Indianapolis 500 pole positions. The New Zealander was 12th fastest on Friday. Dixon's teammate Max Chilton is drawn to go after him. Chilton was 23rd yesterday.

Buddy Lazier's primary car was drawn 16th among the primary cars. The 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner is attempting to make his 19th Indianapolis 500 start, the most among active driver. Lazier has started on the final row in his last three starts. His best Indianapolis 500 start was fifth in 1996. Lazier was the slowest driver on Friday at 225.683 MPH. Alex Tagliani is the first of three A.J. Foyt Racing drivers drawn to qualify. The Canadian was 29th on Friday. Takuma Sato will follow his teammate. He was 27th in Friday practice.

Townsend Bell is drawn 19th among the primary cars. He was sixth quickest on Friday but had the fastest no tow lap, a lap that came without assistance of a draft from another car, at 231.342 MPH. Bell is attempting to make his tenth Indianapolis 500 start. He has qualified outside the top twenty the last three years. His best start was fourth in 2011. Gabby Chaves drew to go after Bell. The Colombian was another surprise on Friday. He was one of the nine drivers to complete a lap at over 231 MPH.

Spencer Pigot is next to do of the primary cars. The rookie suffered an accident on Wednesday and missed all of the Thursday session barring one install lap. He was 26th fastest yesterday. Charlie Kimball is drawn 22nd of the primary cars. Last year, Kimball matched his best Indianapolis 500 starting position in 14th. He has three top ten finishes in five Indianapolis 500 starts. His two finishes outside the top ten occurred when he qualified outside the first eight rows.

Ryan Hunter-Reay drew 23rd in the order of primary cars. He was the slowest Andretti Autosport entry for most of Friday before vaulting up to seventh late in the session. He has started outside the first five rows in six of his eight Indianapolis 500 starts. Stefan Wilson is attempting to make his Indianapolis 500 debut and is drawn after Hunter-Reay. Wilson made two Freedom 100 starts in 2010 and 2011. His best finish was fourth. Wilson was the slowest rookie on Friday, 32nd on the timesheet. Jack Hawksworth is drawn after his countryman Wilson. Hawksworth was the fastest of the Foyt drivers on Friday in 22nd.

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya is scheduled to go out 26th. His starting position has regressed in his three Indianapolis 500 starts. After starting second as a rookie in 1999, he has started tenth and 15th in his last two starts. The last time the previous year's Indianapolis 500 winner won the pole position the following year was 2010 by Hélio Castroneves. Castroneves won pole position in 2009 as well. Montoya was the slowest of the Penske cars on Friday in 18th. James Hinchcliffe is set to go after Montoya. He was third fastest at 231.972 MPH. Hinchcliffe has started second in two of his four Indianapolis 500 starts.

Carlos Muñoz is 28th in the order of primary cars. He was fourth fastest on Friday. Like his countryman Montoya, Muñoz's starting position has regressed in his three Indianapolis 500 starts. After starting second as a rookie in 2013, he has started seventh and 11th the last two years. Sage Karam returns to the Speedway and is attempting to make his third Indianapolis 500 start. After starting on the final row as a rookie in 2014, Karam started 22nd last year. He was 30th fastest on Friday.

Pippa Mann drew 30th. She was 19th fastest yesterday in practice. Her best Indianapolis 500 starting position was 22nd in 2014. Ed Carpenter is set to go after Mann. All four of Carpenter's starts in the first three rows have come in the last six years. Carpenter was 16th in Friday practice. Conor Daly should be the penultimate primary car to go. He was 25th yesterday. Daly was slated to start 23rd in last year's race before an oil leak ended his race on the pace laps. Graham Rahal is the final of the primary cars in the qualifying order. His best Indianapolis 500 start was fourth in 2009 but he has started on row six or worse in four of the last five years. Rahal was 17th fastest on Friday.

Saturday begins with practice from 11:00 a.m. ET-12:00 p.m. ET. Qualifying begins at 12:45 p.m. ET and can be seen on and WatchESPN. ABC picks up coverage of the final two hours of qualifying at 4:00 p.m. ET.