103rd Indianapolis 500: Pole position for Pagenaud, Alonso goes home
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud has won the pole position for the upcoming 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, defeating eight rivals in Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Pagenaud’s four-lap average in the #22 Dallara-Chevrolet was 299.992 mph. He will share the front row with two Ed Carpenter Racing’s drivers – team boss Ed Carpenter (299.889 mph) and Spencer Pigot (229.826 mph). The fourth place on the grid also went to ECR driver as Ed Jones set an average of 229.646 mph.
On the other side of the grid, six drivers participated in the Last Row Shootout, with two-time F1 champion and 24h Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso as the biggest star among them.
But, his legendary status didn’t secure him a place on the 33-car grid for the greatest American race. Driving the #66 Chevrolet for McLaren Racing, he was 34th, bumped out by Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser in the #32 Chevrolet. Kaiser’s average was 227.372 mph, just 0.019 mph faster than Alonso.
Together with Kyle Kaiser, Sage Karam (Dreyer &Reinbold Racing) and James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) secured places on the grid in the Last Row Shootout. Alonso will be a spectator together with two Carlin’s drivers Max Chilton and Patricio O’Ward.
“Obviously, it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday. We came here to race and to challenge ourselves, and we were not quick enough. I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully we’ll see a nice show next Sunday. We are all disappointed, and we will try to do better next time. But it’s that kind of things that you learn. I said before, I prefer to be here – even 34th – than being at home like last year,” Fernando Alonso commented.
For Simon Pageaud, who celebrated 35th birthday just a day before taking pole position for Indianapolis 500, it’s his 11th pole position of his 11-year IndyCar career. Previously, he started from the front row two times at Indianapolis, from the second place in 2018 and third place in 2015. His best result at the end of the race was the sixth place in last year’s race.
Pagenaud is also the first Frenchman in a century to capture the Indy 500 pole, since Rene Thomas in 1919. For Team Penske, it’s the 18th Indianapolis 500 pole position, what is thirteen more than any other team.
Behind Pagenaud and three ECR drivers, rookie Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing) qualified fifth with an average 229.086. Will Power (Team Penske), the 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner, rounded out the second row by qualifying sixth. Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing), Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) and Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) will share the third row.
Pagenaud will lead the closest field in Indianapolis 500 history. The time separating Pagenaud’s four-lap average and that of slowest qualifier Pippa Mann was 1.8932 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 2.1509 seconds in 2014. The 228.240 mph speed average of the 33 qualifiers is fourth fastest in Indianapolis 500 history.
The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 26.