Simon Pagenaud wins pole for 103rd Indy 500

Pole man Simon Pagenaud
Pole man Simon Pagenaud

In a high-drama day, delayed by rain, Penske Chevy driver Simon Pagenaud put up 3 laps over 230 mph and averaged 229.992 mph over 4-laps to win the pole for the 103rd Indy 500 – the 18th Indy 500 pole for Team Penske.

The Ed Carpenter Chevy team took the other two front row spots with Ed Carpenter 2nd quick and Ed Jones putting up the 3rd best 4-lap average.

But perhaps the biggest shock of the day was F1 team McLaren and 2-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso failing to make the race – just too slow. In all, only 1.89 seconds separated the fastest time from the slowest, making this the closest field in Indy 500 history. And as for Fernando, he missed the cut by 33/1000th of a second yesterday to Pippa Mann, and 13/1000th of a second today to Kyle Kaiser over the 10 mile runs.

Conditions for the Pole Run – which was delayed by rain until the end of the day — were considerably better than yesterday's wind and heat conditions. And Simon Pagenaud — whose 2018 season was so disappointing that rumors were abounding about a job change — put up laps that were both fast and consistent. He didn't turn the fastest lap — that went to Ed Carpenter — but the consistency made him 7/100th of a second faster than Carpenter over the 10 mile run. Fernando later commented that, with the exception of the last lap of the run with the punctured tire, he held the loud pedal down all the way through the run — but the speed just wasn't there.

Chevy no doubt will love the results of the session, as the top 4 spots are Chevy-powered. However, Ed Carpenter Racing and Team Penske both put all of their drivers in the fast 9. Given those teams effort to be fast on Pole Day, one can surmise that they'd be in the top 9 running Kia minivans. More directly to the point, all 3 of the bumped cars ran on Chevy power too.


JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet): "Well, I'm glad we got to run today. I really wanted to because I thought that would be a great opportunity. I'm super pumped for Team Penske, winning the pole with Simon (Pagenaud) is great. I'm not sure what happened with the No. 2 car, but we just lost speed. It was still great to get a run and I can't wait to get the Shell V-Power Chevrolet into race conditions. I have all the faith in everybody that we are going to have a great race car. I'm excited for next weekend and now we will focus on that."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Indy, she likes a dramatic day, huh? It's crazy how it played out. I'm obviously thrilled for the team and all our partners, Honda, Arrow, everybody. I know a year ago I was watching everybody else go out for fast nine, and we weren't in the show and it sucks. I feel bad for those guys. We've got to get back to work tomorrow. We've had a really strong car in race trim, so I'm bummed that I wrecked that one, but hopefully it all translates well to the new car and we get back to group running. We've got a good rocket ship on our hands. It was deja vu all over again. I told Sam (Schmidt, team owner) before we went out that we are going to try to not do this next year, try not to have it be so dramatic. Again, I just can't thank everyone at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda enough. It's great that all the Hondas got in; that's obviously a big plus for us as a group. So now it's just whatever happened, happened and we have to put our eyes forward."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet): "No clue what happened to our speed today. It was easy to drive, but it was slow. I really could not tell you why. It's unfortunate because we were so close to the top speed yesterday. We'll study our data pretty hard tonight to see where the speed went. The Verizon 5G Chevrolet was amazing to drive, so much so that I was really dumbfounded when I heard what the times were. Starting sixth is not bad, but I really want a pole here. It's coming, man. It took a few years to win the race, so it may take a few years to win the pole."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): "It was a pretty solid run in the No. 18 SealMaster car. The higher you start, the better it is. We should've been a little faster if I had downshifted like I was supposed to, but not a huge deal. We knew with the weather conditions that it was going to be a little tricky to extract more out of the car because the air was denser. At the end of the day, the goal was to get the car in and not make any mistakes. We did that, so at least I feel at peace with myself compared to yesterday. We'll just try and execute in the race and have a solid day next Sunday".

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet): "I was hoping one of the three of us was going to get the pole, but finishing 2-3-4 is the next best thing. I'm really proud of the whole team to give us the cars we had, which put us in the position to go out and qualify the way that we did. I've said every year, the poles are a credit to the team and their work in the offseason in building the cars. More than anything, the consistency to have all three cars stacked together is special compared to how the other teams are more spread out. Huge thank you to Chevrolet, Preferred Freezer Services, Lineage, SMC, Direct Supply, Autogeek, WeatherTech and Scuderia Corsa with special thanks to Giacomo (Mattioli). It's been a good month, and hopefully, we can have another couple days of practice to fine-tune the race setup and do what we came here to do – win the Indy 500."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "Yeah, it's sweet. Starting front row in the Indy 500 is a real honor, and like Ed (Carpenter, team owner) said, a testament to our team. I wouldn't say I was doing the rain dance all day. I think as race car drivers we love driving Indy cars at the limit and you definitely get a chance to do that here in qualifying. Any chance we get to put four laps of qualifying together here is exciting in the car. So, unfortunately, it was a little short, but like Ed said, great day for the team. (We're starting) 2, 3, 4, and I think all of us were pretty happy with our race cars Wednesday and Thursday, so we have a lot to look forward to and a lot to be confident about heading into next weekend."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "Obviously, it's my whole team behind me that prepared me to here. It's a team effort, but obviously, super happy for France. I think this sport is a sport that I know France would really enjoy, and they do, so this can only help gain the recognition over there and in Europe. So obviously, also having (Fernando) Alonso here was great for that. But it's a team effort. I can't take this for myself. This is truly what Team Penske does, and they give us the best equipment. Quite frankly, I'm at the very, very end of it all, so I'm just very honored to drive this No. 22 Menards Chevy, which honestly, was incredible today."

ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Team Penske): "I think when you look at Simon's (Pagenaud) run today, it was amazing to see the consistency over 230 mph, which looked like (Rick) Mears was qualifying there back in the old days. But I just want to congratulate him in front of all of you. We had four good cars. He was strong all month, and I think when we had to execute, there was certainly one guy that was going to get on the pole, and that was Simon. All month they've been on the ball, and of course, the momentum coming off the road course win, you've got to think about that, too. A combined couple of weeks here has been terrific. Now we have to go on and get the big one."

Sage Karam
Sage Karam

SAGE KARAM (No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet): "We haven't had a lot of good days this week. And the team has stuck with me and they have picked me up when I was down. And vice versa. I had a wrestling coach tell me that it doesn't matter who you are wrestling, the rank, the bracket or anything. It's all about whose better in those six minutes at that time. We didn't have it yesterday. But I knew that we just needed to be better than the guys who we were up against today for four laps. I feel like I won the race and I just qualified for it. I was so happy to get this thing in today. I didn't want to go another sleepless night and be thinking about it. You look at the guys in the last chance six now. There were big names and big teams. We're a strong one-off race team. And we knew it was not going to be an easy task. I wish I could have run those four laps yesterday. We would be well up the field. But that how Indy works. There are so many doubts at this place. When you can do something special, it really feels great. I had some doubts in the last couple of days. But today really shows that the DRR WIX Filters team has produced when things are on the line. Now, we'll continue our race setup program on Monday. The race setup is very good. I am confident for next Sunday."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "Our run was great. There are things out of our control right now that are preventing us from going fast here at Indy that need to be addressed. We will deal with them this week. At the end of the day, I don't think we had anything for the Chevys. We didn't end up the fastest Honda, which was our goal and I think it is something that the whole No. 27 NAPA Andretti Honda boys earned. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, it is 500 miles and we need to focus on building a good race car. There were much more dramatic things that happened today than us not qualifying fifth or sixth. We are grateful for that and happy to be in the show."

KYLE KAISER (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): "It felt like we qualified on pole when I came in, to be honest. It was pretty wild. I didn't really know right away. Everybody keeps asking, when did you know. I had no idea. I had somewhat of an idea because I got to see the laps, but I heard it was really close. And I came across start finish and first thing I asked was are we in, did we make it, and I just heard screaming, so that was a good sign. But the last 48 hours, like Sage (Karam) said, has been an absolute whirlwind. It's been crazy. We had really good pace with our main car, but obviously we had an incident, and it's been just an uphill battle since then. I have to give the team pretty much all the credit here because they've been working super long nights. I think they had 40 straight hours of work trying to get that car together, getting us ready to practice the next day at 8:00 a.m., just an unbelievable effort. Obviously, the backup car didn't have the same pace as our main car, but we didn't give up. This was just an amazing battle from their end, just looking for every little thing we could do, no matter what it was, sanding the car, just changing pieces, just doing everything possible to try and get the speed out of it, and even yesterday when I don't think we had a perfect first run, the balance wasn't quite what we were hoping, it was very difficult conditions, we rallied, we got the balance right later in the day with our other two runs even though the speed wasn't there, which I think paid off today. We felt like we didn't need to go out this morning. We had the balance where we wanted it, we got the data we needed yesterday and kind of stuck with our guns, and it really paid off."

ED JONES (No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet): "It was a good day. I qualified fourth for the Indianapolis 500. It's great for myself, Scuderia Corsa and Ed Carpenter Racing. Having three cars at the front is really positive. Of course, you always want to be on pole, but regardless, it's great to be up front. It will give us a great chance for the win next Sunday and that's what it's all about."

FERNANDO ALONSO (No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet): "Well, I didn't spend much time with the team yet. I've been only in my motorhome and talking with friends or family and following the Fast Nine Shootout. Once you are not anymore in, you try to start relaxing a little bit. It has been a very long qualifying, nearly 56 hours of qualifying from yesterday morning. Yesterday, we were 31st instead of 30th. Today, 34th instead of 33rd by a very small margin, and unfortunately, not fast enough in any or both days. I'm disappointed now. Obviously, it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday. We came here to race and to challenge ourselves and we were not quick enough. I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully, we'll see a nice show next Sunday, with everyone safe. I will be enjoying from the TV, unfortunately."

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda): "Another great day for the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda. I think that was our max like yesterday. We said we'd be happy with fifth place because we didn't think we had enough for the four guys in front of us. Everyone is just so competitive and quick, but you can win from anywhere here. It didn't matter if we started fifth or 25th, I was going to be happy either way. The guys have been working so well together and we've made it in the show really nicely. So I'm really excited to see what happens next."

Indy 500 Lineup

Pos No Name QSPEED QL1 QL2 QL3 QL4 Team
1 22 Simon Pagenaud 229.992 230.119 230.011 230.110 229.729 Team Penske
2 20 Ed Carpenter 229.889 230.372 230.023 229.656 229.508 Ed Carpenter Racing
3 21 Spencer Pigot 229.826 230.058 229.841 229.792 229.614 Ed Carpenter Racing
4 63 Ed Jones 229.646 230.196 229.505 229.486 229.400 Ed Carpenter Racing
5 88 Colton Herta 229.086 229.518 229.307 229.027 228.493 Harding Steinbrenner Racing
6 12 Will Power 228.645 228.909 228.645 228.564 228.464 Team Penske
7 18 Sebastien Bourdais 228.621 228.976 228.523 228.800 228.187 Dale Coyne Racing w/Vasser-Sullivan
8 2 Josef Newgarden 228.396 228.703 228.349 228.087 228.447 Team Penske
9 27 Alexander Rossi 228.247 228.849 228.320 227.985 227.836 Andretti Autosport
10 98 Marco Andretti 228.756 229.626 228.920 228.429 228.055 Andretti Herta Autosport w/Curb-Agaj
11 25 Conor Daly 228.617 229.226 228.497 228.403 228.344 Andretti Autosport
12 3 Helio Castroneves 228.523 229.543 228.557 228.079 227.918 Team Penske
13 7 Marcus Ericsson 228.511 229.015 228.217 228.443 228.371 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
14 30 Takuma Sato 228.300 228.779 228.257 227.866 228.299 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
15 33 James Davison 228.273 229.247 228.102 227.885 227.865 Dale Coyne with Byrd and Belardi
16 14 Tony Kanaan 228.120 228.630 228.200 227.881 227.771 AJ Foyt Enterprises
17 15 Graham Rahal 228.104 228.565 228.333 228.254 227.270 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
18 9 Scott Dixon 228.100 228.656 228.155 228.077 227.514 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
19 77 Oriol Servia 227.991 228.563 228.359 227.821 227.226 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
20 23 Charlie Kimball 227.915 228.305 227.910 227.951 227.496 Carlin
21 48 JR Hildebrand 227.908 228.786 228.210 227.594 227.050 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
22 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 227.877 228.656 228.080 227.431 227.347 Andretti Autosport
23 19 Santino Ferrucci 227.731 228.293 228.083 227.404 227.147 Dale Coyne Racing
24 4 Matheus Leist 227.717 228.091 227.785 227.467 227.525 AJ Foyt Enterprises
25 60 Jack Harvey 227.695 228.566 227.929 227.618 226.675 Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM
26 42 Jordan King 227.502 227.789 227.702 227.444 227.075 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
27 81 Ben Hanley 227.482 227.932 227.692 227.353 226.953 DragonSpeed
28 26 Zach Veach 227.341 228.348 227.405 226.819 226.800 Andretti Autosport
29 10 Felix Rosenqvist 227.297 227.743 227.525 227.187 226.735 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
30 39 Pippa Mann 227.244 228.369 227.380 226.484 226.751 Clauson-Marshall Racing
31 24 Sage Karam 227.740 228.501 227.764 227.499 227.201 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing
32 5T James Hinchcliffe 227.543 227.948 227.722 227.450 227.054 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
33 32 Kyle Kaiser 227.372 227.720 227.420 227.239 227.109 Juncos Racing
Bumped – Too Slow
34 66 Fernando Alonso 227.353 227.777 227.278 227.137 227.221 McLaren Racing
35 59 Max Chilton 226.192 227.061 225.620 226.009 226.085 Carlin
36 31 Patricio O'Ward 227.092 227.325 227.267 226.855 226.922 Carlin

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