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Indy 500: Pole Day - qualifying updates

19 May 2012

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe will start from pole position for the 96th running of the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at noon on May 27.

His fast nine pole shoot-out speed of 226.484mph (2:38.9514s) was just 0.003mph (0.0023s) ahead of that of Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe, who in turn was just fast enough to hold out against a late run from his team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay who had to settle for the outside position on the front row instead.

Marco Andretti, Will Power and Helio Castroneves take the second row, and Josef Newgarden joins Tony Kanaan and EJ Viso on row three after the two KV Racing team mates decided not to set representative times in the fast nine pole shootout.

Fast nine pole shoot-out times:
1. Ryan Briscoe Chevrolet 226.484mph 2:38.9514s
2. James Hinchcliffe Chevrolet 226.481mph 2:38.9537s -0.0023
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Chevrolet 226.240mph 2:39.1233s -0.1719
4. Marco Andretti Chevrolet 225.456mph 2:39.6766s -0.7252
5. Will Power Chevrolet 225.422mph 2:39.7004s -0.749
6. Helio Castroneves Chevrolet 225.172mph 2:39.8780s -0.9266
7. Josef Newgarden Honda 224.037mph 2:40.6879s -1.7365

No time:
Tony Kanaan Chevrolet
EJ Viso Chevrolet

The third KVR team member, Rubens Barrichello, finished the day immediately behind them in 10th place.

Those who didn't qualify for the race today - but who will have new opportunities to do so on Sunday - include Wade Cunningham, Mike Conway and Sebastien Bourdais, who were bumped out; Bryan Clauson, Ed Carpenter, and Oriol Servia, who all crashed; and Katherine Legge, Simona de Silvestro and Jean Alesi did not make qualifying attempts on Saturday.

A full session report with driver quotes is now available.

This remainder of this page contains 'as it happened' updates from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during qualifying on Pole Day.

Update at 11.15pm BST (6.15pm Indiana time):

In the final 45 minutes of the fast nine pole shootout, Helio Castroneves was first back out on track to attempt to improve on his earlier slightly lacklustre time, but waived off his second run.

The sole Honda representative, Josef Newgarden, was the last of the nine to take to the track, but didn't seem in the mood to push for the pole position and instead posted a lap speed of 224.037mph, slowest of all the runs.

The front runners were all gearing up for new attempts on pole, with Will Power first through the tech inspection line and Hinchcliffe, Castroneves, Briscoe and Andretti clamouring behind.

Power's new lap was well down on his first and he ended up waiving it off before the end, bringing to an end any prospect of an all-Penske front row. Then it was Hinch's turn, and this time the warm-up lap was far more leisurely in an attempt to save the rubber for the qualifying laps; but when he turned the wick up, the pace wasn't there and he was a long way short of improving on his time and taking pole, so that ended in a waiver as well.

With Hinchcliffe falling short, Penske could pull Briscoe from the inspection line confident that they had pole position locked down. Instead they thought that they could focus on improving Castroneves' starting position, but this too ended up in a waive-off and it seemed that the best conditions of the day were behind them.

Marco Andretti had no better luck, falling short of his earlier time by a lender margin and handing the baton to his team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay to make a try. Hunter-Reay's first lap looked to stand a chance of challenging Briscoe, and his remaining laps were still an improvement on his first run, but ultimately the aggregate lap speed of 226.240mph was sufficient to put Hunter-Reay onto the outside of the front row in third place.

Update at 10.15pm BST (5.15pm Indiana time):

EJ Viso was first out on track in the 90-minute fast nine pole shootout session, but he did not complete the run before pulling back into pit lane looking very underspeed, although it seemed that he was pulling the same sort of trick seen increasingly in F1 Q3 these days of just doing a sighting lap before calling it a day.

Marco Andretti followed him out on track, setting a benchmark for pole position of 225.456mph straight away - almost a mile an hour better than he had done earlier in the day, as temperatures started to ease off.

Tony Kanaan also aborted his first appearance out on track, leaving the way open for Ryan Briscoe to have a go at Marco's time. It was a massive effort and resulted in an aggregate time of 226.484mph, over a mile an hour faster than Marco and already looking like it might be unbeatable.

Sudden cloud cover coincided with Helio Castroneves' run which helped give him a little extra grip, but that only translated into a lap speed of 225.172mph for provisional third place. Ryan Hunter-Reay did rather better a few minutes later and slotted into second place with a lap speed of 225.772mph, followed by Will Power putting the #12 Penske Verizon car into third with a lap speed of 225.526mph.

With honours looking fairly even between the Penske and Andretti crews, it fell to the mayor of Hinchtown to cast the deciding vote with his first pole shootout qualifying run to see if he could replicate his earlier blistering form that had shot him into an unassailable lead of main qualifying session.

James Hinchcliffe's warm-up lap alone was an unequalled 227.009mph, but he couldn't replicate that on his four timed laps and ended up 0.003mph slower than Briscoe for second spot with an aggregate lap of 226.481mph. The groans of the crowd at the near miss echoed around the speedway.

Fortunately, in the fast nine session there is no need for anyone to formally withdraw their standing time in order to make another run. The chances surely are that the mayor will be back in action before the close of play.

Update at 9.30pm BST (4.30pm Indiana time):

Here are the times at the end of the Pole day qualifying session, which also determines pit stall order for the race. The order of positions 10 through 24 are set; those who did not make it in on Saturday start afresh on Sunday for positions 25-33.

The drivers on the first three rows now have their times deleted and have 90 minutes to set new ones to determine the order of the front three rows, rather like the way Q3 works in F1 qualifying.

Through to pole shootout:
1. James Hinchcliffe Chevrolet 225.746mph 2:39.4715s
2. Will Power Chevrolet 225.399mph 2:39.7167s -0.2452
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Chevrolet 225.289mph 2:39.7948s -0.3233
4. Helio Castroneves Chevrolet 225.282mph 2:39.7996s -0.3281
5. Ryan Briscoe Chevrolet 225.078mph 2:39.9446s -0.4731
6. Tony Kanaan Chevrolet 224.751mph 2:40.1775s -0.706
7. Marco Andretti Chevrolet 224.680mph 2:40.2278s -0.7563
8. Josef Newgarden Honda 224.677mph 2:40.2298s -0.7583
9. EJ Viso Chevrolet 224.422mph 2:40.4119s -0.9404

Qualified:
10. Rubens Barrichello Chevrolet 224.264mph 2:40.5253s -1.0538
11. Alex Tagliani Honda 224.000mph 2:40.7144s -1.2429
12. Graham Rahal Honda 223.959mph 2:40.7437s -1.2722
13. Ana Beatriz Chevrolet 223.920mph 2:40.7720s -1.3005
14. Charlie Kimball Honda 223.868mph 2:40.8093s -1.3378
15. Scott Dixon Honda 223.684mph 2:40.9413s -1.4698
16. Dario Franchitti Honda 223.582mph 2:41.0144s -1.5429
17. James Jakes Honda 223.482mph 2:41.0866s -1.6151
18. JR Hildebrand Chevrolet 223.422mph 2:41.1299s -1.6584
19. Takuma Sato Honda 223.392mph 2:41.1517s -1.6802
20. Townsend Bell Honda 223.134mph 2:41.3377s -1.8662
21. Justin Wilson Honda 222.929mph 2:41.4865s -2.015
22. Michel Jourdain Honda 222.893mph 2:41.5124s -2.0409
23. Simon Pagenaud Honda 222.891mph 2:41.5138s -2.0423
24. Sebastian Saavedra Chevrolet 222.811mph 2:41.5720s -2.1005

Bumped:
Wade Cunningham Honda 222.689mph 2:41.6605s
Mike Conway Honda 2 222.434mph 2:41.8458s
Sebastien Bourdais Chevrolet 222.415mph 2:41.8595s

Waived off:
Katherine Legge Chevrolet

No time/crashed:
Bryan Clauson Honda
Ed Carpenter Chevrolet
Oriol Servia Chevrolet

No attempt:
Jean Alesi Lotus
Simona de Silvestro Lotus

Update at 9.10pm BST (4.10pm Indiana time):

When the track reopened following Ed Carpenter's big crash in turn 2, it was Sebastian Saavedra's turn to try a qualifying run after blowing up his Chevy engine earlier in the day. The run was looking good until a small bobble on the third of the four timed laps ducked his aggregate down to 221.217mph and outside the top 24.

Mike Conway was next out on track, attempting to undo the problem of failing post-qualifying technical inspection for being underweight during his first run. He managed a four-lap average of 222.434mph, well down on his initial qualifying run of 223.160mph but still 0.019s faster than Bourdais who was bumped out of the top 24 as a result.

Conway's place in the qualifiers lasted just a few minutes, before the next man out - Dale Coyne Racing's James Jakes - went comprehensively faster with a lap speed of 223.482mph to slot into 17th position and bump Conway out of the top 24 and now leave Wade Cunningham on the bubble.

Sebastian Saavedra took up the challenge, and proved up to the task with an average lap speed of 222.811mph even as the gunshot rang out to call time on the qualifying session. Conway didn't get his own chance to respond: even though he had lined up ahead of Saavedra, the team had tried to carry out a craft tyre change in the tech inspection line which wasn't allowed. The car was pulled out and lost its spot and had no time to re-queue.

Those who didn't qualify in the top 24 today - Wade Cunningham, Mike Conway, Sebastien Bourdais, Bryan Clauson, Ed Carpenter, Katherine Legge, Oriol Servia and Jean Alesi, who made no attempt at all to run on Saturday - will still be able to make the grid on Sunday assuming they have raceable cars.

None of these late runners affected the top nine going through to the 90-minute pole shootout from 4.30pm, consisting of: James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden and EJ Viso. Rubens Barrichello was left the first man on the outside looking in.

Update at 8.35pm BST (3.35pm Indiana time):

Practice was brought to an end and qualifying resumed with around 50 minutes to go with Sebastien Bourdais lined up to make his second attempt at qualifying after waiving off his first run. He completed his run with an aggregate lap speed of 222.415mph to get into the top 24.

His run was followed by a new attempt by the #99 of Wade Cunningham who had withdrawn his earlier time in order to make a new run. His new run gained an average lap time of 223.134mph to go into 19th place, a considerable improvement on his earlier withdrawn lap of 221.514mph.

Next up was Wade Cunningham, who like Bourdais had aborted his first qualifying attempt. His lap speed his 222.689mph. His AJ Foyt Racing team mate Mike Conway will also need to undertake a new qualifying run, after the car had been found to be underweight because it was missing the required ballast after his initial run, and the lap consequently disallowed.

Katherine Legge then ventured out for her first qualifying lap, but Dragon quickly waived it off after just one lap in the 221 range which was plainly to going to get her into the top 24.

The latest activity had seen Ed Carpenter bumped from the top 24, and so he was duly out to try and work his way back in. However, he'd barely started his flying lap when he lost the back end of the car going into turn 2 and had a frightening impact along the wall that threw the car up perpendicular on its side and peeled away much of the left hand bodywork, before landing back on track right side up.

While Carpenter was quick to wave and climb out of the car, that left considerable debris over the area for the safety officials to clear up.

Update at 7.25pm BST (2.25pm Indiana time):

Rubens Barrichello is the first driver out after the initial run through the qualifying order, which he had opted out of. His first qualifying average lap speed is 224.264mph to scrape into ninth place and provisionally bump Alex Taglini out of the pole shootout session, an excellent showing for the rookie.

"Truly happy," said the former F1 driver afterwards. "Very different from anything I've ever tried - that long wait was killing!"

Oriol Servia was next out but got loose and immediately spun out of turn 4 to be the second big accident of the day. The spin sent him into the pit entry area and into a hit with the inside wall and then the pit lane attenuator (the leading nose edge of the wall separating the pit road from the main race track.) The car suffered extensive damage but the tub itself was intact and reusable and Servia himself was unhurt.

A fairly lengthy caution ensured for repairs to be made to the barriers, after which Wade Cunningham and Sebastien Bourdais made their first outings on track but both ended up with waive-offs as they were underspeed.

Tony Kanaan then went out for his second run of the day, to make up for losing his first time for his car lacking the mandatory weight ballast for the #11: perhaps channelling that frustration he easily punched out a 224.751mph aggregate (compared to his initial 225.100mph attempt) to go back into sixth place.

That bumped Barrichello out of the Fast Nine pole shootout, and also knocked Ed Carpenter out of the top 24 whose positions are set by Pole Day qualifying.

With no one else lining up for a qualifying run, the track was then opened up for practice runs as teams tried out their latest set-up changes, unless and until another qualifier made themselves known.

If no further qualifiers materialise, then the session will end in a little over 90 minutes for a half hour hiatus before the pole shootout.

Update at 6.37pm BST (1.37pm Indiana time):

Josef Newgarden shrugged off the crash of his team mate Bryan Clauson to post a laptime of 224.677mph to become the fastest of the Honda runners. Ana Beatriz will be less than thrilled with 223.920mph in the Andretti Autosport Chevy despite being a provisional seventh place.

Ryan Briscoe kept up the strong showing of the Penske cars with an average of 225.078s. He agreed with James Jakes that the track is getting increasingly slick as temperatures climb, and that the earlier runners had the best of it unless someone lucks into a period of cloud cover.

Tony Kanaan's first lap of the session has been deleted after the #11 failed post-qualifying tech inspection for being underweight, the team having forgotten to add the requisite weight ballast.

Ed Carpenter's run of 220.377s puts him in P14 (slowest runner to this point) but there's a remarkable 4mph drop off between the first and last laps of his four-lap run. "That was awful," he tells the media afterwards. "I"m really angry."

Michel Jourdain Jr. goes out right after and posts an average lap speed of 222.893mph (P12), a nice rebound after his Friday engine fire. Takuma Sato does better than that with a 223.392s, before EJ Viso opens KV Racing's account with an average lap speed of 224.422s to go sixth, followed by JR Hildebrand posting 223.422mph to slot in ahead of Sato outside the top ten.

After Simon Pagenaud (222.891mph), James Hinchcliffe went to the top of the speed charts with a four-lap average 225.746mph, 0.347s ahead of former polesitter Will Power. Hinch's run included a lap that was the first to exceed 226mph so far on Saturday; he was carrying with him a pair of the late Greg Moore's red gloves with him in the car.

Marco Andretti posts a slightly underwhelming aggregate time of 224.680mph to slot into sixth, followed by the 2011 polesitter Alex Tagliani setting a 224.000mph time to settle into ninth position. Mike Conway then sets a time of 223.160mph.

That completes the first run through the qualifying order, with 23 cars having set times and 26 having been out on track. Some drivers - including de Silvestro, Legge, Sebastien Bourdais, Jean Alesi and Rubens Barrichello - dropped out of the initial qualifying order and have yet to set a time. A little under half the five-hour Pole Day qualifying session remains. Cars now run in the order in which they enter the pre-qualifying inspection line.

Top ten at the midway point: Hinchcliffe, Power, Hunter-Reay, Castroneves, Briscoe, Andretti, Newgarden, Viso, Tagliani and Rahal.

Only two Hondas - Newgarden and Tagliani - are in the top nine in line for the pole shootout. In particular neither of the two main Ganassi drivers - Dixon and Franchitti - are looking likely to progress.

Update at 5.30pm BST (12.30pm Indiana time):

Tony Kanaan had the first qualifying run of the day and posted an average lap speed of 225.100s to set the first benchmark for Pole Day.

Simona de Silvestro missed her place in the pre-qualifying inspection line meaning that she could not take up her initial guaranteed qualifying run and will have to wait for everyone to complete their first run.

Katherine Legge also did not take up her spot, in what looked like a conscious decision by Dragon Racing to sit out the early sessions and possibly not make a qualifying run until Sunday's Bump Day.

Townsend Bell (221.514mph) and Scott Dixon (223.684mph) can't top Kanaan's time, but Will Power set a new provisional pole time of 225.339s. The fastest man in morning warm-up, Helio Castroneves, narrowly failed to beat that with a lap of 225.282s.

Andretti Autosport's first representative, Sebastian Saavedra, has a major engine failure on his run, but Ryan Hunter-Reay goes second with 225.289mph.

The two Dale Coyne Racing cars of Justin Wilson (222.929mph) and James Jakes (222.338mph) both struggle with handling; Wilson suggests that the wind might have picked up while Jakes speculates about climbing temperatures.

As if on cue, Bryan Clauson crashes shortly thereafter when he gets out of the groove into turn 2, spins and hits the SAFER barrier, demolishing the left rear of the car. He climbs out but looks shaken. There's a brief pause while debris is removed from underneath the SAFER barrier. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing have a spare car, but it's in pieces according to team owner Sarah Fisher.

Dario Franchitti makes his run and posts a time of 223.582mph but says he's very unhappy with the car right now and that it seems the Honda cars don't have the speed. His Ganassi stablemates Graham Rahal post 223.868mph and 223.959mph respectively.


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