The Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw the return of speed on Pole Day.
The 2012 four-lap average pole speed was a whopping 226.484 mph set by Ryan Briscoe. This year, the speedway saw drivers flirting with speeds around 229 mph.
Provisional pole winner Will Power was on the fringe of 230 mph with two laps at 229 mph each that contributed to a four-lap average of 228.844 mph. But the speedway’s new Pole Day format spices things up with the fast-nine competition that pits the top nine qualifiers from the day on a shootout for the pole position.
Due to rain, though, the fast-nine was pushed to 6:30 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m. Each driver was left with only one attempt to re-qualify as opposed to the usual go-for-no run until the closing gun. The winner of the pole position receives $100,000 and 15 championship points. The idea was to create some excitement among the first three rows in the last 90 minutes of qualifying; on Saturday, fans at the track got just that.
Ed Carpenter, the Butler graduate who is now a self-financed driver-owner, recorded a four lap average of 228.762. Carpenter removed Power from the pole to take his own pole position in the Indianapolis 500 the first time in his career.
“I knew we had a shot,” Carpenter Said. “I felt like coming in that we had a chance to be on the pole or inside the top ten … To be on the pole for this race is a really big start of a dream come true and I hope it’s a big start to a great month of May.”
Rookie Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport blazed the field, qualifying second with a four-lap average of 228.342. The Indianapolis 500 will qualify positions 25 through 33 tomorrow.