After a long day at the Brickyard, the contenders for the Indy 500 pole have been determined.
James Hinchcliffe led the way with a 230.946mph average speed during his second four-lap time trial to set quick time for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on the opening day of Verizon IndyCar Series practice.
Behind Hinchcliffe, a combination of faces both expected and surprising filled the top nine positions to seep themselves in contention for the ability to lead the field to the start of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Ryan Hunter-Reay went on-track for a last-ditch attempt after getting bumped by Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti in the final minutes of the session. The 2014 Indy 500 champion made good on the attempt, jumping to second with an average speed of 230.805 mph.
Team Penske’s Will Power and Helio Castroneves used 230mph efforts in the closing stages to end the session third and fourth.
Townsend Bell’s first effort, a 230.452mph scorcher that stayed as quick time for much of the day, proved well enough to keep him in the top five. Bell ended the day in fourth despite making only one attempt.
Josef Newgarden managed a sixth-place result to lead the way for Ed Carpenter Racing, with Mikhail Aleshin just beating the closing gun to slot in seventh. Carlos Muñoz and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top nine.
The first to miss out on a shot at tomorrow’s pole qualifying was rookie Alexander Rossi. Both Rossi and Andretti were bumped in the closing moments of qualifying, leaving only Hunter-Reay to make an attempt at the pole for Andretti Autosport.
Many of the favorites to win next Sunday’s Indy 500 struggled in qualifying. Defending winner Juan Pablo Montoya and defending series champion Scott Dixon each missed the cut despite multiple attempts, as did 2013 Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan.
31 of the 33 cars on the grid managed to complete a qualifying attempt. Missing on the charts were Max Chilton and Pippa Mann, who crashed in morning practice and qualifying, respectively.
The field will return to IMS on Sunday to set the field and determine the 100th pole sitter for the Indy 500.
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