Spencer Pigot on provisional Indy 500 pole, Fernando Alonso and James Hinchcliffe under bump threat
Ed Carpenter Racing's Spencer Pigot holds provisional pole position for the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 as Fernando Alonso and James Hinchcliffe face the threat of being bumped from the event in a dramatic day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Pigot was drawn second to run and made the most of the earlier cooler and less windy conditions to head to the top of the timing table with a 230.083mph average lap speed which was unbeaten for the remainder of the day.
Track conditions changed drastically throughout the day as the wind picked up, though the sun remained out for most of the day, raising track temperature to well over 50C at times.
There was also major drama towards the back of the field as heavy-hitting names in McLaren's Alonso and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Hinchcliffe endured a troubling day at the Brickyard and could now be bumped from the event on Sunday.
Pigot's nearest challenger came in the form of 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power who came so narrowly close to Pigot on a 230.081mph run in the #12 5G entry, his effort was one of the last in the better running conditions.
Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden follow in behind team-mate Power for third and fourth, the Frenchman took a second run to find an improvement to take a provisional spot on the front row.
Harding Steinbrenner Racing's Colton Herta set the field alight to be the fastest Honda-powered driver with the best speed of 229.478mph after a second run to go fifth fastest, the IndyCar Classic race winner felt confident in his #88 car to trim out even more downforce in his later attempt.
The ECR pair of Ed Jones and Ed Carpenter are currently set to line-up in sixth and seventh respectively, Jones looked to snatch the top spot from team-mate Pigot on his run but was not consistent enough over his four-lap run to maintain the average lap speed.
Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi and Dale Coyne's Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the Firestone Fast-Nine. IndyCar has confirmed if the forecasted heavy rain prevents the Fast-Nine battling for pole position, times from Saturday will count.
Former Formula 1 driver, Marcus Ericsson enjoyed his first time qualifying at the Brickyard after a solid performance for Arrow SPM. The Swede will start the race from 13th position.
Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon was left wanting more after only securing 18th place for the famous race, whilst team-mate Felix Rosenqvist nearly had to contest the last-row shootout, but just made it into the automatic spots in 29th position.
Meyer Shank Racing's Jack Harvey had a very loose #60 car en route to qualifying in 25th on a best run of 227.695mph, twice having to correct slides out of Turn 2.
Pippa Mann claimed a spot in the Indy 500 after missing out on the 2018 event by ending the day in the final automatic qualifying spot of 30th place, her fastest effort was a 227.244mph. She was visibly relieved when the cameras focussed on her at the end of the day.
Alonso suffered a difficult afternoon as the Spaniard was the victim of a puncture during his opening run of the day, the McLaren driver then made several more runs but still found it hard to get into a comfortable position on the leaderboard.
Dreyer & Reinbold's JR. Hildebrand made a final run in the session with little time on the clock and improved heavily which bumped the double-F1 World Champion into the last-row shootout.
Hinchcliffe will have to face the prospect of being bumped from the famous race for the second successive season as he ended the session in the battle for the final row in the field.
The Canadian crashed heavily on his first run of the day in a very windy Turn 2, destroying his primary #5 car.
A back-up car was swiftly prepared for him after being cleared and released from the infield medical centre, but struggled to get back on a similar pace to team-mate Ericsson.
With the inclement weather set to hit the circuit through Sunday, priority is given to the last-row shootout in order finalise the 33 car grid which will take the start of the Indy 500 on May 26.
Provisional qualifying results
|1||Spencer Pigot||Ed Carpenter Racing||230.083mph|
|2||Will Power (W)||Team Penske||230.081mph|
|3||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||229.854mph|
|4||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||229.749mph|
|5||Colton Herta (R)||Harding Steinbrenner Racing||229.478mph|
|6||Ed Jones||Ed Carpenter Racing||229.440mph|
|7||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||229.349mph|
|8||Alexander Rossi (W)||Andretti Autosport||229.268mph|
|9||Sebastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan||228.800mph|
|10||Marco Andretti||Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian||228.756mph|
|11||Conor Daly||Andretti Autosport||228.617mph|
|12||Helio Castroneves (W)||Team Penske||228.523mph|
|13||Marcus Ericsson (R)||Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||228.511mph|
|14||Takuma Sato (W)||Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing||228.300mph|
|15||James Davison||Dale Coyne Racing with Byrd & Belardi||228.273mph|
|16||Tony Kanaan (W)||A.J Foyt Enterprises||228.120mph|
|17||Graham Rahal||Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing||228.104mph|
|18||Scott Dixon (W)||Chip Ganassi Racing||228.100mph|
|19||Oriol Servia||Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||227.991mph|
|21||JR Hildebrand||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||227.908mph|
|22||Ryan Hunter-Reay (W)||Andretti Autosport||227.877mph|
|23||Santino Ferrucci (R)||Dale Coyne Racing||227.731mph|
|24||Matheus Leist||A.J Foyt Enterprises||227.717mph|
|25||Jack Harvey||Meyer Shank Racing||227.695mph|
|26||Jordan King (R)||Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan Racing||227.502mph|
|27||Ben Hanley (R)||DragonSpeed||227.482mph|
|28||Zach Veach||Andretti Autosport||227.341mph|
|29||Felix Rosenqvist (R)||Chip Ganassi Racing||227.297mph|
|30||Pippa Mann||Clauson Marshall Racing||227.244mph|
|31||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Racing||227.224mph|
|32||James Hinchcliffe||Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||226.956mph|
|33||Sage Karem||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||226.951mph|
|34||Patricio O'Ward (R)||Carlin||226.897mph|
|36||Kyle Kaiser||Juncos Racing||No Time|
(R) – Denotes Indy 500 Rookie of the Year candidate; (W) - Denotes Indianapolis 500 winner