Carpenter to start Indy 500 in front row


Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS

Ed Carpenter and Danica Patrick got exactly what they needed in qualifying Sunday.

Now comes the hard part: Finding a way to victory lane next weekend.

After crashing Roger Penske’s front-row party by claiming his third Indianapolis 500 pole-winning run and watching his teammate, Patrick, qualify seventh for the final start of her career, Carpenter quickly turned his attention to hosting a bigger family celebration at the track his stepfather’s family owns.

“We’ve been in this position before and ran a good race. I thought we had a chance to win [when we won our] first pole, we didn’t really have the right game plan,” Carpenter said. “I feel like we’ve learned a lot.

“I feel like I’ve gotten better since 2014. We’ve got a great package with Chevrolet and ECR and hopefully we’ll be able to be in the mix [next] Sunday.”

Carpenter has largely taken a backseat to other prominent story lines this month.

Penske’s team earned its 200th career win last week and was in position to claim the top three spots Sunday.

Patrick has drawn plenty of attention as she gears up for the final stop on her two-race farewell tour.

Helio Castroneves had the fastest car in qualifying Saturday and looked like he might break a tie for second by claiming his fifth career Indy pole. Instead, he’ll chase a record-tying fourth 500 win from the No. 8 starting spot.

The return of Bump Day left two drivers, James Hinchcliffe and Pippa Mann, searching for ways to get back into the field. There was no immediate indication if either had a pathway back though one door closed when IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye told The Associated Press the traditional 33-car field would not be expanded.

But Carpenter’s surprisingly quick four-lap qualifying run was all the rage Sunday.

He was the only driver to top 230 mph, the only one to turn four successive laps over 229 and the only one who beat Penske’s drivers.

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