By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — Scott Dixon had two more cars to sweat out after turning in a four lap qualifying average of 232.164 mph for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Dixon had qualified on the provisional pole but the two cars that topped him in Saturday’s first round of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 were still to come.
Takuma Sato went to the plate and fired off some heart-stopping moments during his ten mile journey around the Indianapolis 500 but his run was only good enough for third fastest at the time.
There was still one car to go.
The polesitter for the 2013 and 2014 Indianapolis 500, Ed Carpenter, was still yet to come out.
Carpenter’s first lap was fast enough but unfortunately the speed was not there for the Indianapolis native and he slotted into second place, giving Scott Dixon his third pole at the Indianapolis 500, his last since 2015. His first came in 2008, the same year he found victory.
The papaya orange elephant in the room
Fernando Alonso was the third qualifier to make his attempt in the final nine shootout for pole and was the qualifier that most had their eye on. The two time Formula One world champion had never competed on an oval and did a respectable job during Saturday’s round.
However, there was a wild card thrown in the mix. The Honda engine in the back of the No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti entry started to smoke in the garage and was changed in enough time to give Alonso his chance in the Fast Nine.
The Spaniard started his run with a first lap of 231.113 mph, and his next two laps got quicker and quicker as the rookie let everything hang out. His final lap was slightly quicker than his first lap and averaged 231.300 mph.
The rest of the Fast Nine
By far the most entertaining run of the Fast Nine shootout was Sato. The Japanese driver came about as close to hitting the wall as he could coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 3. The next time around, Sato did whitewall his right rear tire but never lifted his foot off the throttle.
Sato would qualify fourth fastest.
Will Power was the lone representative of Team Penske in the Fast Nine and was the slowest qualifier of the nine qualifiers. In fact, had the field been ranked based on average without the Fast Nine shootout, Power has the 14th best speed in the field.
Defending 500 winner Alexander Rossi qualified third fastest in what was a mammoth performance for the California native, becoming the fastest Andretti Autosport car in their six car armada.
The rest of the field and other observations
Ryan Hunter-Reay made a massive statement to the rest of the field to watch out for his No. 28 DHL Honda as he put up a four lap average that made him the fourth fastest car in the field. The 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner will start 10th.
Next to Hunter-Reay is rookie Ed Jones. Jones turned a fastest lap in the morning practice of over 233 mph. Granted, that was with assistance from having another car in front of him, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing had two impressive results with Oriol Servia in 12th and Graham Rahal in 14th. The two posted some of the fastest opening laps of the first group of cars.
To put many predictions in the trash can, Buddy Lazier went fast enough to keep himself off of the last row of cars. Sebastian Saavedra fell off enough on his last lap to drop his average over two mph, Zach Veach was driving conservatively to get him in the show while the No. 18 car was being built in the garage area after James Davison was announced as the driver to replace Sebastien Bourdais.