Armed Forces Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had it all as starting positions were set for the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
James Hinchcliffe, who nearly lost his life at the same track a year ago in a crash during Indianapolis 500 practice, put together a scintillating four-lap run of 230.760 mph as the final driver of the day in the Fast Nine Shootout. It allowed the Canadian fan favorite to claim the Verizon P1 Award and $100,000 prize for earning the pole position and the right to lead the 33-car field to the green flag to start the epic race May 29.
Driving the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Hinchcliffe collected the first pole of his Verizon IndyCar Series career in what will be his 79th race, edging Josef Newgarden for the honor by a mere 0.0407 of a second over the 10-mile run.
“I came into this month hoping we’d have a new story to talk about after what happened last year and I think we did it,” an emotional Hinchcliffe said on pit lane. “I can’t believe it. I’m honestly at a loss for words, which everyone knows is rare for me.
Newgarden, in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, was second with a run of 230.700 mph, with 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay third at 230.648 in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport.
The second row was filled by a pair of Andretti Autosport drivers, Townsend Bell (fourth) and Carlos Munoz (fifth), along with Team Penske’s Will Power (sixth). Qualifying in Row 3 were Hinchcliffe’s teammate Mikhail Aleshin (seventh) and a pair of Penske drivers, season points leader Simon Pagenaud (eighth) and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (ninth).
The legendary 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is set for May 29.