Two rain delays limited running time on the first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying with three-time winner Helio Castroneves ending the day fastest and both James Hinchcliffe and Pippa Mann failing to make the group of 33 that advances to the second day of qualifying to set the starting lineup.
Castroneves was only the fourth driver to make a qualifying attempt, but his 228.919 mph lap was only seriously challenged by Ed Carpenter, the last qualifier of the day.
Out of all 35 cars attempting to make the field, the strongest performances came from Team Penske and Ed Carpenter Racing — two teams powered by Chevrolet. All four Penske drivers made the top nine, allowing them to fight for the pole in Sunday’s Fast 9 qualifying.
Simon Pagenaud averaged 228.304 mph to end the day third on the speed chart while teammate Will Power’s 228.194 mph average placed him fourth. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden averaged 228.049 mph to rank seventh.
In addition to Ed Carpenter’s 228.692 mph four-lap average that placed him second behind Castroneves, both of ECR’s other cars ended the session, which was scheduled to run for seven hours, in the top nine. Spencer Pigot put the No. 21 car sixth on the speed chart, just ahead of Newgarden, while Danica Patrick’s No. 13 machine placed ninth on the strength of a 227.610 mph average.
With the seven strong Chevrolets, there was room for only two Honda cars in the top nine. Sebastien Bourdais, coming off a heavy crash in qualifying for last year’s Indy 500, averaged 228.090 mph in his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda to place fifth. Scott Dixon initially qualified with a 227.591 mph average in his Chip Ganassi Racing machine but made a second attempt and improved to a 227.610 mph average to place eighth.
In all, there were 48 qualification attempts, including multiple runs for Scuderia Corsa’s Oriol Servia, whose first attempt was waved off after he averaged only 197.334 mph after three laps. A second attempt, also waved off after three laps, saw the Spaniard improve to 220.066 mph, which was not enough to make it into the field. On his third try, Servia averaged 225.007 mph to place 31st.
Dale Coyne Racing struggled to make the field with Conor Daly making three attempts and securing his spot with a 224.798 mph average on his third attempt.
Daly’s teammate Mann was not as lucky. After her first attempt averaged only 224.360 mph, she withdrew the speed and made a second attempt. With a speed less than her initial attempt, the team elected to wave off Mann’s second outing. On her third try, Mann’s four-lap average of 223.343 mph was not fast enough to make it into the top 33.
Hinchcliffe, whose first qualifying run averaged 224.784 mph, was bumped when Daly worked his way back into the field. Hinchcliffe took the No. 5 back on track for a second attempt, but a vibration prompted him to bring his car back to the pits after just the warm-up lap.
In line for a third attempt, time expired and Hinchcliffe was bumped out of the field without setting an official time.
Sunday’s schedule begins with practice for positions 10 through 33 from noon to 12:45 p.m. EDT followed by Fast 9 practice from 1:15–2 p.m. Group 1 qualifying to set positions 10 through 33 will begin at 2:45 p.m. with each car getting one four-lap run. Fast 9 qualifying to decide the pole position will begin at 5 p.m. and air live on ABC.