Simon Pagenaud defeated Ed Carpenter for pole position; Kyle Kaiser has captured the hearts of outsiders everywhere; and Fernando Alonso have been eliminated from the 103rd Indianapolis 500. This is the main story of Sunday's emotionally charged qualifying session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Pagenaud gave Roger Penske his 18th Indy pole with a race at 229.992 mph, just a little faster than Carpenter's average of 229.889 mph in his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy. And his young driver Spencer Pigot offered ECR two-thirds of the first line with a race of 229.825 mph.
"It's a very special moment. It's just amazing, "said Pagenaud, the first Frenchman to win the pole since Rene Thomas in 1919.
"Obviously, last week was amazing but it's even more special. The Penske team has been phenomenal, giving me the best equipment. I can not thank them enough nor thank my teammates for always pushing me. It's the biggest race in the world. "
Carpenter, three-time pole holder, and who loves to drive on the edge of IMS, has nearly climbed to fourth place.
"The fact that Ed Carpenter Racing cars start in the second, third, and fourth positions speaks volumes about the organization, all of our staff, and the efforts they've made to build our cars. the consistency of all the equipment is something that I am really personally proud of, "said the only owner / driver in the field.
"I know it's a little bitter-sweet for us. I managed to pass a few cars today, which is good and puts us in a good position for the start of the race. Spencer was doing a rain dance, I wanted to run. I would really like one of us to be in pole position, but I'm still very happy to have 2, 3 and 4. I think it's unbelievable, and Simon just had a great race with his car, so consistent. I could not believe how consistent it was. So congratulations to him.
Pigot, who clocked the fastest speed of Saturday's prelims, was so close to repeating Sunday.
"Starting the front row of the Indy 500 is a real honor and, as Ed said, a testimony for our team. I would not say I was doing the rain dance all day. I think that as race car drivers, we love to drive Indy cars to the limit, and you certainly have a chance to do it here at qualifying. Any luck we have to do four qualifying rounds together is exciting in the car.
"So, unfortunately, it was a little short, but as Ed said, nice day for the team. We have a lot to expect and a lot of confidence for next weekend. "
It was the closest division (0.103 seconds) for the first line of the IMS history, as well as the gap between the pole and the 33rd (less than three miles per hour ), but these facts were almost anti-climatic in the aftermath of the Last Row shootout of the day.
Alonso, whose McLaren team fought on and off the circuit all week during his debut at Indy, signed an agreement to manage the Andretti Autosport shocks but only got two hot turns before the rain end the morning testing period. The two-time F1 World Champion was shown rather cold on the new setup and reacted with an average of 227.353 km / h in four laps, after James Hinchcliffe posted an average of four laps at 227.543 mph.
But when the wise Karam threw an average of 227,740 mph, he left Alonso on the bubble with two drivers left.
Rookie Pato O'Ward drove well in Trevor Carlin's rescue car, but remained shy with a 227,092 mph run; and then everything fell on Kyle Kaiser. Kaiser had played, choosing not to train Sunday morning in his Chevy Juncos Racing. Still, with all the world's pressure on his shoulders, aged 23, the 2017 Indy Lights champion did like a veteran and ran at 227,372 mph.
It was 0.0019 mph faster than Alonso and gave the small, sponsorless based team, based on Speedway's main street, in Indiana, its most rewarding day of all. time.
"It was the most moving 48 hours of my life, but I'm so proud of this team," said Kaiser.
For Alonso, but especially for McLaren, not to qualify was a humiliating experience. But the 37-year-old Spaniard was victorious in the face of defeat.
"We were 31 Saturday and 34 today; unfortunately, not fast enough from one day to the next, "said the pilot who was so impressive in his debut at Indy in 2017 with Michael Andretti's team. "It's disappointing because we were here to run."
When asked if he would return to IMS, he replied, "It's too early to make that decision."
Behind the top three, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter Racing's third fastest-running member of the week, locked second place in row 2, followed by Colton Herta and his teammate Penke, the champion. title of champion Indy Will Power.
Sebastian Bourdais offered another good run to Dale Coyne and Vasser-Sullivan Racing. He will start seventh on May 26, while Josef Newgarden will take the green flag eighth and the 2016 Indy winner Alexander Rossi will be ninth.