INDIANAPOLIS – The Fast Nine Shootout as was good as advertised. With everyone wanting the distinction of being the pole winner for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, the nine fastest drivers from Saturday had an intense battle vying to be the one to conquer the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during qualifying.
At the end, the ultimate drama and dream story happened.
James Hinchcliffe earned his first career Verizon IndyCar Series pole award, as he nearly completes the ultimate feel good story.
In fact, Hinchcliffe being on the pole is the ultimate story of the year.
Hinchcliffe, was nearly killed in a practice accident here last year on May 18. He was hospitalized for several weeks and missed the remainder of the season as a result.
He came back this year and is better than ever before.
Hinchcliffe, turned a four-lap average of 230.760 mph in his No. 5 Arrow Honda as he turned that lap as the last qualifier in the Shootout.
The pole run was done in dramatic fashion as the fans cheered wildly as Hinchcliffe crossed the yard of bricks on his fourth and final lap of his run.
He was quicker than Josef Newgarden on his first three laps, but it came down to the final lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He ended up being quick enough, as he gave Honda their first pole since June 28, 2014 and ended Chevrolet’s streak of 30 straight IndyCar poles.
Newgarden will start second while Ryan Hunter-Reay will start on the outside of Row 1 giving us two American’s and two Honda’s on the front row.
There’s also three different teams on the front row as well as you have Hinchcliffe in a Schmidt/Peterson Motorsports Honda, Newgarden in an Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet and Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.
Newgarden qualified with a four-lap average of 230.700 mph with Hunter-Reay being 230.648 mph.
Townsend Bell will roll off fourth while Carlos Munoz rounded out the top five in qualifying to give three Andretti cars in the top five starting spots.
Team Penske’s Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves also made the Fast Nine but they will start sixth, eighth and ninth respectively as their streak of seven straight poles officially comes to an end.
100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Starting Lineup:
Row 1: James Hinchcliffe Josef Newgarden Ryan Hunter-Reay
Row 2: Townsend Bell Carlos Munoz Will Power
Row 3: Mikhail Aleshin Simon Pagenaud Helio Castroneves
Row 4: Oriol Servia Alexander Rossi R Takuma Sato
Row 5: Scott Dixon Marco Andretti J.R. Hildebrand
Row 6: Charlie Kimball Juan Pablo Montoya Tony Kanaan
Row 7: Sebastien Bourdais Ed Carpenter Gabby Chaves
Row 8: Max Chilton R Sage Karam Conor Daly
Row 9: Pippa Mann Graham Rahal Matthew Brabham R
Row 10: Bryan Clauson Spencer Pigot R Stefan Wilson R
Row 11: Jack Hawksworth Buddy Lazier Alex Tagliani