Fernando Alonso’s impressive Indianapolis 500 campaign has continued into qualifying, with the two-time Formula 1 World Champion booking himself a spot in Sunday’s ‘Fast Nine’ session to where he will compete for pole position.

The Spaniard’s outstanding showing was in direct contrast to former F1 driver Sébastien Bourdais, who suffered a terrifying crash that saw the Frenchman flip his Dale Coyne Racing entry after hitting the wall at Turn 2.

His car landed on its wheels, and Bourdais was taken to the nearby Methodist Hospital for examination. He was described as “awake and alert” by officials, who confirmed that the 38-year-old was reporting pain in his legs and hips.

After an early rain shower hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, officials elected to reduce preliminary qualifying to a single four-lap run for each driver. The fast nine would progress to the ‘Fast 9’ session and compete for pole, while those who were tenth and below will have a second session on Sunday to determine their starting order.

The session was topped by oval specialist Ed Carpenter, who was one of just two driver to clock four laps over 230mph, posting a 230.465mph average to put his Chevrolet-powered runner at the top of the timesheets in a session dominated by Honda runners.

Former F1 driver Takuma Sato was second-fastest in the first of six Andretti Autosport entries, with a 230.382mph effort, ahead of 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

In an excellent day for Carpenter’s eponymous team, JR Hildebrand was fourth-quickest ahead of defending Indianpolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi.

Team Penske had a difficult qualifying session, with Will Power its sole representative to make it into the ‘Fast 9’.

All eyes were on seventh-fastest Fernando Alonso, who was the fastest rookie driver with his first two laps over 230mph in his joint-venture McLaren/Andretti Honda. He beat home Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti to complete the group of nine.

The Fast Nine will have a number of notable absentees, including four of the five Penske entries, as well as Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and last year’s polesitter James Hinchcliffe.

2017 IndyCar Series – 101st Indianapolis 500 Provisional Qualifying Results
Driver Team Avg. Speed
1. Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing 230.468 mph
2. Takuma Sato Andretti Autosport 230.382 mph
3. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 230.333 mph
4. JR Hildebrand Ed Carpenter Racing 230.205 mph
5. Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport 230.148 mph
6. Will Power Team Penske 230.072 mph
7. Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda Andretti 230.034 mph
8. Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing 230.007 mph
9. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport 229.924 mph
10. Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing 229.717 mph
11. Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing 229.713 mph
12. Max Chilton Chip Ganassi Racing 229.636 mph
13. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 229.533 mph
14. Hélio Castroneves Team Penske 229.390 mph
15. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 229.217 mph
16. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 228.835 mph
17. Josef Newgarden Team Penske 228.696 mph
18. Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske 228.645 mph
19. James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 228.577 mph
20. Simon Pagenaud Team Penske 228.393 mph
21. Sage Karam Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 227.943 mph
22. Jay Howard Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 227.853 mph
23. Carlos Munoz A.J. Foyt Enterprises 227.438 mph
24. Oriol Servia Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 227.150 mph
25. Jack Harvey Michael Shank Racing 226.894 mph
26. Gabby Chaves Harding Racing 226.875 mph
27. Conor Daly A.J. Foyt Enterprises 225.912 mph
28. Sebastian Saavedra Juncos Racing 225.815 mph
29. Spencer Pigot Juncos Racing 223.631 mph
30. Buddy Lazier Lazier Partners Racing 221.427 mph
31. Pippa Mann Dale Coyne Racing 219.282 mph
32. Sébastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing no time
33. Zach Veach A.J. Foyt Enterprises no time

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Geoff Burke

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