By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Pole Day has come and gone in preparation for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. There were surprises and interesting happenings during the day so let’s take a look at them.
First of all, Ed Carpenter scored his third Indianapolis 500 pole with a four-lap average of 229.618 mph, almost a full mph higher than Simon Pagenaud starting second.
It was interesting to see Helio Castroneves fall so much on his Fast Nine qualifying attempt. The fastest driver in yesterday’s runs, the speed went from 228.992 mph on the first lap to 227.015 on the final lap. Meanwhile, his Team Penske teammates qualified second, third and fourth.
Sebastien Bourdais is the fastest Honda driver in the field. It’s an interesting statistic considering how fast he was last year and what happened in qualifying. Bourdais had to lay it all on the line to be quick and he barely qualified onto the second row.
A. J. Foyt Racing qualified 10th and 11th. It was an amazing showing given the changes that the team made in the offseason with their third different driver lineup in a three year span.
Zachary Claman De Melo did quite well in his qualifying attempt, especially considering that he went out eighth. He will start 13th, a lucky number for Claman De Melo because of his family history. One of his grandmothers was freed from the Holocaust on Friday the 13th and the numbers tattooed on her arm added up to 13.
Robert Wickens was the fastest Schmidt Peterson car on Sunday, qualifying 18th. Teammates Jay Howard (28th) and Jack Harvey (31st) weren’t as lucky, nor was James Hinchcliffe who didn’t even qualify on Saturday.
Juncos Racing was strong on Pole Day. Kyle Kaiser qualified 17th, directly in the middle of the field which was a relief for the 2017 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion.
“They’ve really shown perseverance, hard work, it does pay off here and we never gave up,” said Kaiser. “We weren’t looking so great right before Fast Friday, we felt like we got in a slump and we were trying to figure stuff out but we stuck with it, kept going over data, did whatever we could to get the speed to come in this car.”
Carlin’s duo of Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball did Trevor Carlin proud. Though Kimball qualified 15th and Chilton qualified 20th, this is Carlin’s first Indianapolis 500. Having won the Freedom 100 in 2017 after a close loss in 2016, the team is looking to get both cars to the finish.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam and JR Hildebrand qualified 24th and 27th, respectively. It was good to see JR keep his nerve despite him having the first wall contact of the month.