A familiar face is the provisional pole-sitter for the Indianapolis 500 following first-round qualifying Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Ed Carpenter, last year's pole-winner, clocked a four-lap average of 230.661 mph to secure the top spot heading into Sunday's Fast Nine Shootout, which will set the top nine positions for the May 25 race.
"I think tomorrow we will have to go out first, but we definitely got some more speed I think that we can squeeze out of it," Carpenter said. "We will see what we've got."
Joining Carpenter in Sunday's group of nine are Carlos Muñoz, Helio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, and J.R. Hildebrand.
Castroneves, a three-time winner in Indianapolis, is seeking his fifth career Indy pole, one behind Rick Mears who holds the all-time record with six.
In his first attempt at qualifying for the Indy 500, Kurt Busch posted the 10th-fastest time in his second run of the afternoon. Immediately afterward, he departed to participate in Saturday night's NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"It's a lot of fun to qualify into the Indianapolis 500 my first outing," Busch said. "I was hoping for a little more, but the air in the morning there is so thick, those cars have a hard time cutting through that air.
"We got bumped out of the Fast Nine, which I thought we might be able to hang on but, hey."
Traditionally strong at Indianapolis, Chip Ganassi Racing lacked speed Saturday. Sitting 15th overall, defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was the highest Ganassi entry. Teammates Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan qualified 17th, 19th and 23rd, respectively. Kanaan won the Indy 500 from the 12th position a year ago.
"We're a mile-and-a-half off right now," Dixon said. "I think fundamentally we are missing something right now. A mile-and-a-half doesn't sound like that much, but it is. The unfortunate part is you work probably six months of the year trying to find the combinations that you want to run, and we think we get the best speed out of it.
With only 33 drivers entered, Sunday's round of qualifying will not feature the traditional bumping associated with the final session of time trials.
Indianapolis 500 Round 1 qualifying results
|13||Juan Pablo Montoya||229.785|