Hoosier native Ed Carpenter repeats as pole sitter at Indy 500
Small local owner driver tops big Penske, Andretti teams
By Rick Yencer
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (SPORTS) - Ed Carpenter admitted it was a bit harder to win the pole at the Indianapolis 500 this year over last.
With new rules requiring multiple qualification runs, Carpenter, a native Hoosier, retained the pole on the second day of qualifications with the top speed of 231.067. Less than a second decided second and third with James Hinchcliffe running 230.839 and Will Power at 230.697.
Sunday seemed alot slower for the Fast Nine like Carpenter's teammate J.R. Hildebrand who remained ninth at 229.358.
Their small racing group, sponsored by Fuzzy Vodka, cheered as Carpenter held on to the pole he held on Saturday. And he was ready for the shootout, yelling racers and Pacers as the local NBA team played Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals at Banker's Life Fieldhouse right after the qualifications ended.
Many racing analysts, including legendary Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitt, predicted a wild and crazy race like last year that saw more than 30 lead changes.
And the speeds of 230 miles an hour are dizzying as past champions like A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears ran much slower.
It was a slower qualifications Sunday with warm temperatures and fewer of the Fast Nine hitting that 230 mark.
The leader on Sunday was Juan Pablo Montoya, the third Penske driver behind Power and Helio Casterneves, who hit 232 and locked in a 10th starting place.
Casterneves qualified on the outside of the second row with Simon Pagenaud, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz, Josef Newgarden and Hildebrand rounding out the top nine.
The only woman, Pippa Mann, found her place on the eighth row while former Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier coming in as the 33rd qualifier.
Some drivers like Andretti said the track was not as fast and somewhat difficult to hit that 230 speed like yesterday.
The 2014 version of Indy cars are divided between Honda and Chevrolet power. with Carpenter and Team Penske using Chevy power while Andretti Motorsports and others preferring Honda.
With the new qualifications format, the stands still appeared mostly empty compared to the glory days of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 1960s-70s. And the speedway is still advertising ticket sales for Sunday';s race.
Look for more practice this week with Carb Day on Friday with a concert by Sammy Hager with the race on Sunday featuring the last time Jim Nabors will sing Back Home in Indiana. As Carpenter said, Indiana is home to the Indianapolis 500 race.