James Hinchcliffe wins pole for 100th Indianapolis 500 as field of 33 is finalized
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 22, 2016 – James Hinchcliffe, the Canadian who missed the 99th Indianapolis 500 after a practice crash, will start the 100th Indy 500 on the pole after a four-lap average of 230.760 mph on Armed Forces Pole Day.
Taking the last qualifying attempt of Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout, the driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda edged Josef Newgarden’s No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet by less than four hundredths of a second over the 10 miles of qualifying, 2 minutes, 36.0063 seconds to 2:36.0407.
“I came into this month hoping we’d have a new story to talk about after what happened last year, and I think we did it,” said Hinchcliffe after winning the Verizon P1 Award and $100,000, not to mention the first pole of his Verizon IndyCar Series career, in his 79th start.
“The Arrow Electronics car was an absolute smoke show out there. It was right on the edge. (Lead engineer) Allen McDonald and all my engineers did such a great job, everybody at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson put me in the car and gave me the car to do it.”
Hinchcliffe won the pole for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil five years to the day after Schmidt Peterson Motorsports won the pole for the 2011 ‘500’ with driver Alex Tagliani. That was the last Indy pole for Honda; this one marks the first at the “500” since Honda and Chevrolet engines began competing in 2012.
Newgarden will make his first front row start and the third in four years for Ed Carpenter Racing, though he could only stand and watch as his blazing 230.700 mph four-lap average was nipped for the pole at 5:44 p.m. by Hinchcliffe.
“It was a tough pill to swallow,” said the native of Hendersonville, Tennessee. “I try to remind myself it’s not just about today’s battle, it’s about the war, and we’ve got to try and get that done next week in the ‘500.’ But it was still a lot of fun just to be up there and have this opportunity to compete.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion, rounds out the front row in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport. Row 2 consists of Andretti Autosport’s Townsend Bell and Carlos Munoz in the fourth and fifth spots, with Team Penske’s Will Power on the outside in sixth.
All three Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Hondas will start the race in the top 10, as Mikhail Aleshin qualified seventh and Oriol Servia 10th as the rest of the grid was set earlier on Sunday.
Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 champion, qualified a remarkable 13th after a late engine swap in his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Ganassi crewmen made the swap in 64 minutes and made it to technical inspection by three minutes.
Defending Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya will start 17th in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
The final extended practice for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 will be Monday. Gates open at noon and the Indy 500 field will practice from 12:30-4 p.m. After that, the cars will not be on track again until the traditional hour of practice on Miller Lite Carb Day on Friday, May 27.
The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will be Sunday, May 29. With a crowd traveling to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that has not been seen in recent years, longtime fans are encouraged to begin their Race Day routines at least two hours earlier than previous years.