SPEEDWAY — The fastest nine drivers jostled for position Saturday with the pole position at stake for the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500, and Ed Carpenter posted the fastest time.
Carpenter will attempt to win his second consecutive pole position today. The Indiana native is only driving the oval races with the Verizon IndyCar Series and hadn’t been in a race in seven months.
Drivers made up to four qualifying attempts looking for the speed needed to compete for the pole position Sunday, which brought plenty of drama to the first day of qualifying.
Only the fastest nine drivers earned a chance to compete in the “Fast Nine” for the honor of leading the field to the green flag next Sunday.
As each driver went back on the track, the provisional pole position was swapped among Carpenter, Will Power, James Hincliffe and Carlos Munoz.
Carpenter didn’t want to make a second run but made it pay off with the fastest four laps at 230.661 mph.
“I was hoping we wouldn’t have to go out again,” he said after sitting at the top of the pylon for much of the day. “I felt like we had a little more in the car.”
To make the day even better for Carpenter, his team car driven by JR Hildebrand posted the ninth-quickest time.
Josef Newgarden, driving for Sarah Fisher Racing, posted the eighth-quickest time when he made his second attempt with time running out. His four-lap average was 230.033 mph.
“It was pretty cool,” he said of making the fast nine. “The best part about it was I didn’t have to make the decision. The team has done a great job this week.”
Newgarden’s time knocked Ryan Hunter-Reay from the fast nine.
After the first round of qualifying, only Carpenter, the 2013 pole sitter, and Hunter-Reay were able to crack the 230 mph mark.