After a thrilling final-hour performance on Saturday, James Hinchcliffe again delivered when it mattered the most, claiming the pole Sunday for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500, edging Josef Newgarden and fellow Honda driver Ryan Hunter-Reay by the narrowest of margins in the final qualifying run of the day. It is Hinchcliffe’s first “500” pole, and the ninth for Honda at the historic Brickyard.
Hinchcliffe’s run of nearly 231 mph on Saturday secured first-round qualifying honors, and meant he would be the last of five Honda drivers vying or the pole during today’s “Fast Nine” shootout. The fourth driver to make a run, Newgarden posted a four-lap average of 230.700 mph that moved him to the top of the speed chart. After both Helio Castroneves and Will Power came up sort, the next-to-last qualifier, Hunter-Reay came close to toppling him, but ended his four-lap run fractionally slower, at 230.648 mph.
That left Hinchcliffe as the final driver to qualify, and just over a year after a practice-session crash resulted in life-threatening injuries, “Hinch” produced a four-lap average speed of 230.760 mph around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval to claim the pole for himself, his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team, and Honda. It was Hinchcliffe’s first Indianapolis 500 pole, after qualifying second in 2014.
Behind Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport drivers Townsend Bell and Carlos Munoz claimed the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, and Hinchcliffe’s teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, will start seventh. Honda drivers also dominated today’s second-round qualifying – for starting positions 10-33 – with Oriol Servia, top rookie Alexander Rossi, and Takuma Sato qualifying 10th through 12th; and Marco Andretti, 14th.
The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 29, with live coverage on ABC starting at 11 a.m. EDT.