Carpenter leads day one of Indy 500 quals

Ed Carpenter smiles after recording the top speed in day one of qualifications for the 101st Indianapolis 500. (WXIN May 20, 2017)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Ed Carpenter had the fastest speed on day one of qualifications for the 101st Indianapolis 500.

The two-time Indy 500 pole winner clocked a four-lap of average of 230.468 miles per hour to take the top spot in Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout.

“I wasn’t sure we were going to get in the Shootout,” Carpenter said.  “I always want to be in it.  It’s fun.  Qualifying is so stressful and so hard around here.  If you’re in the Shootout and have a chance at it, it’s worth it.  If you’re just figuring out whether you’re going to be 10th or 25th, it’s really painful.  When we don’t get in there, I’m pretty grumpy.”

Qualifying was set to begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, but was delayed because of rain.  The drivers finally took the track at 4 p.m. and were allowed just one qualifying attempt.

Takuma Sato had the second best qualifying speed of the day at 230.382 mph while Scott Dixon was third at 230.333 mph.

“It’s kind of a dream,” Sato said about having a chance at the pole.  “This is an absolute team effort.  The team is gathering great data.  Hopefully, we will have a very strong car tomorrow if the weather stays the same and we’ll see what happens.”

“We skipped the morning practice,” said Dixon.  “Then with the rain delay, it was a lot of sitting around and thinking about things and most of the time, bad things.  Eating a few donuts here and there and hanging out with the dogs in the motor home, it was just nice to get that first one done.”

JR Hildebrand, Alexander Rossi, Will Power, Fernando Alonso, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti round out the rest of the field for the battle for pole position.

Two-time F1 world champion Alonso continued to impress in his first week driving an IndyCar recording a four-lap average of 230.034 and advancing easily into the Fast Nine.

“Definitely intense,” Alonso said about qualifying at Indy.  “When they said that we have only one shot today that created a little bit of stress for everyone on the team, but I had the car to be confident and to push all four laps.  I think there’s a little bit more speed in the car.  I learned and tomorrow we’ll be better.”

Sebastien Bourdais did not complete his qualifying attempt after a nasty crash in turn two.  He suffered multiple fractures and was set to undergo surgery at IU Health Methodist Hospital Saturday night.

“I heard that he’s going to be okay, so that’s a good thing,” said Marco Andretti.  “It’s one of those crashes where afterwards you say, ‘man, he was lucky.’  Unlucky, but lucky.”

Rookie Zach Veach did not try to qualify after a practice crash on Friday.

Positions 10 through 33 will be determined from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m. on Sunday with the Fast Nine Shootout set to begin at 5:00 p.m.