Saturday, May 13, 2017

Morning Warm-Up: 4th Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Will Power is on pole position again at Indianapolis
For the third time in 2017 and 47th time in IndyCar history Will Power will start from pole position and the Australian broke another track record along the way. Power ran a lap of 67.7044 seconds in the final round of qualifying, 0.9702 seconds faster than the previous track record, which Power set in the first round of qualifying last year. This is Power's second career pole position in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and he won the race from pole position in 2015. Power's pole position was the 250th IndyCar pole position for Team Penske. Power failed to finished inside the top ten in his last two starts from the first spot on the grid. Hélio Castroneves joins his teammate on the front row, as he was 0.4125 seconds off Power. This will be Castroneves' fourth consecutive front row start, the first time he has accomplished such a streak since he won fourth consecutive pole positions in 2004 at Nazareth, Chicagoland, Fontana and Texas. Power and Castroneves have split all five pole positions this season and this is the third consecutive race with Power and Castroneves starting on the front row.

Josef Newgarden swept the top three of Team Penske, the second consecutive race where Team Penske has swept the top three positions. This is Newgarden's best start of the season and his best starting position in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Newgarden has finished in the top ten every time he has started third in his career. Scott Dixon is the top Honda on the outside of row two. Dixon has yet to finish better than his starting position in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He did start and finish seventh last year. Juan Pablo Montoya makes his season debut this weekend with Team Penske and he will start fifth. The last two years Montoya won his first start of the season; both were at St. Petersburg. Montoya's only victory on a natural-terrain road course was at Mid-Ohio on August 15, 1999. Sébastien Bourdais rounded out the final round of qualifying in sixth position. Bourdais has never finished on the podium when starting sixth.

Simon Pagenaud missed the final round of qualifying for the third time in four occasions this year but the Frenchman will start seventh. Like his fellow countryman Bourdais, Pagenaud has never finished on the podium when starting in seventh position. Ryan Hunter-Reay joins Pagenaud on row seven. Hunter-Reay finished second to Pagenaud in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis three years ago. Hunter-Reay's worst finish in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is 11th. Alexander Rossi will start behind his teammate in ninth position. This is Rossi's third top ten start in the first five races this season. Rossi had three top ten starts all of 2016 and all three came in the final four races of the season. James Hinchcliffe rounds out the top ten. The last time Hinchcliffe started tenth in a race was Texas last year. He went on to lead the most laps and finish second by 0.0080 seconds to Graham Rahal.

Marco Andretti missed out on the top ten but the third-generation driver picked up his best career starting position in this race in 11th with his former teammate Tony Kanaan joining him on row six. Andretti's previous best starting position in this race was 13th in 2014. He is still looking for his first top ten finish in this race. This is Kanaan's worst starting position in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Kanaan has not led a lap in a race before the Indianapolis 500 since he led 12 laps at São Paulo in 2013. Ed Jones will make his Grand Prix of Indianapolis debut from 13th on the grid with his former Indy Lights teammate Max Chilton starting next to him in 14th. Jones matches his career best IndyCar start. Chilton is coming off his third retirement in his IndyCar career after being caught up in the first lap accident at Phoenix. Conor Daly and Spencer Pigot will start on row eight. This is the first time Daly has qualified as the top Foyt driver this season. Pigot finished 11th in this race last year.

Mikhail Aleshin qualified 17th and he finished 17th after his spin at Phoenix in turn one, lap one. Aleshin's only other starts from 17th were at St. Petersburg the last two years. Carlos Muñoz rounds out row nine. He finished tenth at Phoenix two weeks ago and has improved on his finish each year in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Charlie Kimball and Graham Rahal comprise row ten. Kimball has finished fifth in all three editions of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, including going from 23rd to fifth in 2014. Rahal finished fourth last year from 24th on the grid. J.R. Hildebrand and Takuma Sato round out the grid on row eleven. This will be Hildebrand's 50th career start and his first starting position outside the top twenty since 2013 at Barber. This will be Sato's 123rd start and the 21st time he has started outside the top twenty.

ABC's coverage of the 4th Grand Prix of Indianapolis begins at 3:30 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 3:50 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 85 laps.