By Kirby Arnold, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS – They’re the Chevrolet flies in the Honda soup, but two cars from Ed Carpenter Racing are ready to take an important plunge into familiar waters – a run for the pole position in the Indianapolis 500.
On a day when Honda-powered cars dominated the speed charts Saturday on the first day of qualifying for the May 30 race, Ed Carpenter and Rinus VeeKay carried the Chevrolet banner. Carpenter qualified fourth fastest at 231.616 mph and VeeKay fifth at 231.483. The third Carpenter car, driven by Conor Daly, qualified 19th at 230.427.
The top nine cars Saturday will run again Sunday in the Fast Nine Shootout to determine the pole position and the starting order of the first three rows in the 500. Carpenter will attempt to win his fourth career pole in the 500.
“It’s nice to get two of our cars in. I wasn’t sure how it was going to shake out,” Carpenter said. “Chevrolet gave us what we needed.”
If not, it would have been an all-Honda party up front.
All four drivers with Honda-powered Chip Ganassi Racing made the top nine – Scott Dixon with Saturday’s fastest speed at 231.828, Tony Kanaan (third fastest, 231.639), Alex Palou (seventh, 231.145) and Marcus Ericsson (ninth, 231.104). Palou crashed later in the day trying to better his speed, but the team expects to repair the car for today’s shootout.
Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport was second fastest at 231.648, Helio Castroneves of Meyer Shank Racing sixth (231.164) and Ryan Hunter-Reay eighth (231.139), all with Honda engines.
The only other Chevy-powered car in the top 13 Saturday was Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, 12th fastest at 230.864.
Carpenter couldn’t say why his team had found the speed that other Chevy teams didn’t.
“Everybody at our team, engineers and mechanics, do a phenomenal job getting prepared for here,” he said. “When it goes well, the driving part is easier. We have just as good a shot at winning the pole as any of these guys. That’s the beauty of qualifying. You have to go out and run four laps. We have everything we need to go fight for it.”