Indianapolis 500 | Ed Carpenter leads ‘fast nine’ into run for pole

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INDIANAPOLIS — Through a five-hour rain delay and after watching Sebastien Bourdais’ scary crash, Ed Carpenter kept his eye on the ball Saturday in the first round of qualifying that leads to the run-off today for the pole position for the 101st Indianapolis 500.

Carpenter wound up the fastest qualifier with a four-lap average of 230.468 mph, besting Takuma Sato (230.382) and Scott Dixon (230.333) in the top three. They are the vanguard of the “fast nine” who will compete for the pole with one-run shots today.

Bourdais was on a run that was by far the fastest of the day, the first two laps at more than 231 mph, before losing control and crashing. His car hit nose first into the SAFER barrier in turn two and flipped — shedding parts, sparks and flames — before coming to rest upright about a third of the way down the back straightaway.

He had to be removed from the cockpit and was put on a stretcher for an immediate trip to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital. Track officials reported he was alert and never lost consciousness. An official said Bourdais suffered multiple pelvis fractures and a fractured hip, and would undergo surgery.

The crash cast a temporary pall over the proceedings on a day when most drivers are putting the car on the edge.

“It takes your breath away,” Carpenter said. “I was in the garage watching it, waiting to come out, and man, that’s one of the biggest single-car qualifying crashes I’ve seen around here. As soon as I saw him crash, the angle he was going in at, you knew it was going to be big.”

The next thought was hoping he was OK, Carpenter said, then getting on with the program.

“I love doing this, and I love being here … and when you do it for this long, you see a lot of things happen,” Carpenter said. “It’s something you talk to your family about, and you’re all committed in together.



“And when you get in the car and put your helmet on, it all goes away. We’re out there to do a job and entertain the fans, and do the best job we can for our team and sponsors.”

The job Saturday was to make that top nine, something also accomplished by Indy rookie Fernando Alonso, a full-time Formula 1 driver. The two-time world champion grabbed the seventh spot, behind Carpenter’s teammate J.R. Hildebrand, defending 500 winner Alexander Rossi and reigning IndyCar champion Will Power.

“I was in the middle (of the qualifying order), so let’s say that I was lucky” with the conditions, Alonso said. “Today, was all about being in the ‘fast nine’. We did it. Tomorrow is the real thing, so let’s see.”

Dixon’s Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, the Andretti Autosport teammate of Sato, Alonso and Rossi, rounded out the nine.

New Albany native Graham Rahal, 16th fastest, will be among the drivers who will make another solo run today to set the 10th through 33rd spots. Also in that group will be rookie Jack Harvey, 25th after a conservative run ordered by his Pataskala-based team owner Michael Shank after the Bourdais crash.

“I have to be truthful, it really did affect us,” Shank said of the Bourdais crash. “At that point we just locked the car down (with downforce) and made sure we got four laps (and) in the field.”

Rookie Zach Veach, 22, of Stockdale didn’t make a run Saturday after his crash Friday. He will have another chance today. As A.J. Foyt Racing team leader Larry Foyt put it, “there was no need to rush” his return.

Meanwhile, as of mid-evening Saturday, there was conjecture that Stefan Wilson could take Bordais’ place in the Dale Coyne Racing entry. The car is needed to fill the traditional 33-car field.

Original http://www.dispatch.com/sports/20170520/indianapolis-500–ed-carpenter-leads-fast-nine-into-run-for-pole

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