Sunday, May 22, 2016

100th Indianapolis 500 Sunday Qualifying Preview

Thirty-two cars made qualifying attempts on Saturday. The grid will be set on Sunday.
The Fast Nine was set on Saturday and those nine drivers will each make one final qualifying attempt for pole position this afternoon while the remaining 24 drivers will each qualify again to set rows four through eleven. The surprise from Saturday was that not only did Honda have the top two times but also had five of the top nine while zero Ganassi drivers advanced to the Fast Nine session.

James Hinchcliffe was fastest on Saturday with a four-lap average at 230.946 MPH. This will be Hinchcliffe's four consecutive Fast Nine appearance. He has qualified second for the Indianapolis 500 twice. Ryan Hunter-Reay was second fastest at 230.805 MPH. Hunter-Reay has qualified in the top nine twice for the Indianapolis 500, most recently seventh in 2013. Will Power was the top Chevrolet driver at 230.736 MPH with his Penske teammate Hélio Castroneves following him at 230.500 MPH. Power has started on the front row the last two years while Castroneves' last front row start was from pole position in 2010.

Townsend Bell was the fastest qualifier after the first run through the qualifying line at 230.452 MPH. Bell's lone Indianapolis 500 start in the top nine was fourth in 2011. Josef Newgarden will qualify in the first three rows for the fourth time in his five Indianapolis 500 appearances. He has never qualified better than the third row. The ECR driver was sixth on Saturday at 230.229 MPH. Mikhail Aleshin vaulted himself into the top nine on the final qualifying attempt yesterday with a four-lap average of 230.209 MPH.

Carlos Muñoz continues to shine at Indianapolis as the Colombian ran a 230.173 MPH average and he will start in the first three rows for the third time in four Indianapolis 500 appearances. Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top nine at 230.102 MPH. After starting on row seven and eight his first two years at the Speedway, the Frenchman will be making his third consecutive start on one of the first three rows.

Alexander Rossi was in the top nine until Aleshin knocked him out. The rookie's lone qualifying attempt was run at 230.048 MPH. Rossi bested his veteran teammate Marco Andretti, whose fastest run on Saturday was 230.037 MPH. Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and defending Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Scott Dixon were 12th and 13th respectively on Saturday, the first two drivers below 230 MPH. Dixon was the top Ganassi driver but no Ganassi drivers in the top nine should not be a surprise as no Ganassi driver has made the Fast Nine since 2011. Last year, the Fast Nine session was not held due to weather delays. Ed Carpenter was 14th with his teammate J.R. Hildebrand in 15th.

Takuma Sato was the top A.J. Foyt Racing driver in 16th; the only driver in the 228 MPH bracket while his former teammate and current Dale Coyne Racing drive Conor Daly was 17th. Sage Karam qualified in 18th, ahead of his former teammate and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan. Sébastien Bourdais rounded out the top twenty while Graham Rahal was 21st. Bryan Clauson and Spencer Pigot both ran four-lap averages at 227.100 MPH but Clauson gets 22nd because he was the first to put up the time.

Oriol Servià was in the top nine for a fair amount of the afternoon but after being relegated to tenth the Spaniard returned to the track only to fall down the order and end up 24th with a four lap average at 226.893 MPH. Charlie Kimball was 25th fastest on Saturday with rookies Matthew Brabham and Stefan Wilson behind him. A.J. Foyt Racing teammates Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani were 28th and 29th. Buddy Lazier was the slowest posted time at 224.341 MPH.

Gabby Chaves made two qualifying attempts on Saturday. His first attempt was at 227.673 MPH but he withdrew that time only to wave his second attempt after one lap. Pippa Mann spun on her only qualifying attempt on Saturday exiting turn two and made light contact with outside and inside wall. She walked away from the car under her own power. Max Chilton did not make a qualifying run after his accident in turn two in pre-qualifying practice.

The track will open for practice at noon for cars 23-33rd from Saturday and last a half hour. Fifteen minutes later cars 10th-21st from Saturday will practice for a half hour. The Fast Nine will get a half hour practice at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Qualifying will resume at 2:45 p.m. ET to set rows four through eleven. The cars will go in reverse order of speeds from Saturday. and WatchESPN will have coverage of the first hour and fifteen minutes of qualifying until ABC's coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Fast Nine session for pole position will begin at 5:00 p.m. ET.