Fernando Alonso has narrowly missed out claiming an historic pole position for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500, and will start the famous oval race from fifth place.
Pole position went to New Zealand racer Scott Dixon, who posted the fastest four-lap qualifying average speed in over 20 years to claim the third Indianapolis 500 pole position of his career. The former champion posted three laps in excess of 232mph (373km/h) in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, outpacing Saturday’s provisional polesitter Ed Carpenter by exactly 0.5mph.
While Dixon was happy to accept the plaudits, the accident of former F1 driver Sébastien Bourdais weighed heavily on his mind and he was quick to admit that the French veteran was in fact the event’s ultimate pace-setter until his frightening crash that has prematurely ended his season.
“To be honest, I think he would have been the one who snatched the pole today. So [I’ve] just got to wish him well. I know he’s going to be on the mend quickly and hopefully he can be in a car here very soon,” Dixon said.
Bourdais underwent surgery overnight to repair a number of pelvic and hip fractures he suffered when his car hit the wall and rolled at Turn 2. The four-time ChampCar World Series champion has been ruled out of racing for the rest of the IndyCar Series season.
Joining Dixon and Carpenter on the front row of the grid is defending race-winner Alexander Rossi, who led a trio of Andretti Autosport entries on the timesheets.
Teammate Takuma Sato delivered a typically wild four-lap run and twice brushed the wall en route to claiming fourth-fastest, mere fractions quicker than the man of the ‘month of May’, Fernando Alonso.
In scenes very reminiscent of his Formula 1 season, his mechanics worked frantically to change his Honda engine ahead of the ‘Fast 9’ shootout. The Spaniard reported the rear of his car was loose, but still continued to exceed everyone’s expectations with a superb run to fifth.
Oval specialist JR Hildebrand ensured both Ed Carpenter Racing entries would qualify inside the top-six, while Tony Kanaan (Chip Ganassi), Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport) and Will Power (Team Penske) completed the ‘Fast 9’ runners.
The balance of the field’s 33 entries had a separate qualifying session to determine the starting order for the fourth row of the grid onward, with Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (pictured right) claiming top spot.
The American was the only runner in that session to post a lap above 231mph, and impressively achieved the feat on all four of his laps to comfortably claim the fastest time.
He will start ahead of rookie driver Ed Jones, who underscored the speed seen by Dale Coyne Racing teammate Bourdais before his crash. The Dubai-based driver was the only other entrant to lap above 230mph on all four of his qualifying laps.
Jones will start ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Oriol Servià – who was the biggest mover on the timesheets overnight – with the Cataln driver’s teammate Graham Rahal sandwiching the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda of Mikhail Aleshin.
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball will start from fifteenth and sixteenth respectively, while last year’s polesitter James Hinchcliffe could do not better than seventeenth.
|2017 IndyCar Series – 101st Indianapolis 500 Final Qualifying Results|
|‘Fast 9’ Qualifiers||Team||Avg. Speed|
|1.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||232.164 mph|
|2.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||231.664 mph|
|3.||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||231.487 mph|
|4.||Takuma Sato||Andretti Autosport||231.365 mph|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda Andretti||231.300 mph|
|6.||JR Hildebrand||Ed Carpenter Racing||230.889 mph|
|7.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing||230.828 mph|
|8.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||230.474 mph|
|9.||Will Power||Team Penske||230.200 mph|
|‘10-33’ Qualifiers||Team||Avg. Speed|
|10.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||231.442 mph|
|11.||Ed Jones||Dale Coyne Racing||230.578 mph|
|12.||Oriol Servià||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||230.309 mph|
|13.||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||230.271 mph|
|14.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||230.253 mph|
|15.||Max Chilton||Chip Ganassi Racing||230.068 mph|
|16.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||229.956 mph|
|17.||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||229.860 mph|
|18.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske||229.565 mph|
|19.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||229.515 mph|
|20.||Jay Howard||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||229.414 mph|
|21.||Sage Karam||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||229.380 mph|
|22.||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||228.501 mph|
|23.||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||228.093 mph|
|24.||Carlos Muñoz||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||227.921 mph|
|25.||Gabby Chaves||Harding Racing||226.921 mph|
|26.||Conor Daly||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||226.439 mph|
|27.||Jack Harvey||Michael Shank Racing||225.742 mph|
|28.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||225.008 mph|
|29.||Spencer Pigot||Juncos Racing||224.052 mph|
|30.||Buddy Lazier||Lazier Partners Racing||223.417 mph|
|31.||Sebastián Saavedra||Juncos Racing||221.142 mph|
|32.||Zach Veach||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||221.081 mph|
|33.||James Davison||Dale Coyne Racing||no time|
Images via LAT Images and Motorsport.com