IndyCar – Hinchcliffe wins pole on Armed Forces Day at IMS

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Matthew Brabham sets out for his qualifying run for the 2016 Indianapolis 500.

One year after suffering a near fatal crash into the Turn 1 SAFER barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, “Mayor” James Hinchcliffe drove his No. 5 Honda-powered Dallara four times around the Brickyard at an average speed of 230.760 mph to claim Pole Position for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The final hour of the last day of qualifying was tense as Josef Newgarden had posted a 230.700 mph that no one seemed to be able to best.

Hinchcliffe was the last of the Fast Nine to contest for the pole, and his first lap at 230.885 made it seem that Newgarden’s speed may be vulnerable, but Josef’s first lap speed was 231.551 mph. James’s second lap speed was even faster than his first at 230.940 mph. On a day when most drivers’ second lap speeds were less than their first, this made the Newgarden’s camp nervous. Following up those first two fast laps with a third and fourth lap at 230.765 and 230.450 mph, respectively.

JamesHinchcliffe_2016-Indy500-PoleWinner“I came into this month hoping we would have a new story to talk about after what happened last year, and I think we did it. The Arrow Electronics car was just an absolute smoke show out there; it was right on the edge. Allen McDonald, all my engineers, did such a great job. These guys worked so hard. Three Schmidt Peterson Motorsports cars in the top 10? It’s incredible. Now we’ve got the best seat in the house for the start of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. ” – James Hinchcliffe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

In terms of total time, Hinchcliffe completed his four laps in 2:36.0063 while Newgarden came in at 2:36.0407, a mere 0.0344 seconds after 10 miles at over 230 mph. That’s close!
The Hondas, which had struggled so much to keep pace with their Chevrolet rivals in the first part of this season, seem to have the Speedway figured out. They occupied five spots in the Fast Nine, including now the Pole. During the first few races this season, there’s not been an obvious visual difference between the Honda and Chevrolet aero kits, but there is a significant difference in their solutions for IMS. There were two major areas where I noticed differences: the front wing end plates, and the mounting hardware for the rear wing. Honda chose a far simpler design versus the Chevrolet’s complex endplates. They also chose to use a gooseneck-style mount for the rear wing, as opposed to Chevrolet’s more traditional mounting struts. Have these and other subtle differences helped Honda turn the corner? It may have for Indianapolis, but we’ll see if their success continues when the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to street racing at Detroit’s Belle Isle.

With the field set, here is your starting grid for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Inside Middle Outside
Row 1
1. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 02:36.0063 (230.760) 2. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 02:36.0470 (230.700) 3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 02:36.0821 (230.648)
Row 2
4. (29) Townsend Bell, Honda, 02:36.1950 (230.481) 5. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 02:36.3264 (230.287) 6. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 02:36.7471 (229.669)
Row 3
7. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 02:36.8205 (229.562) 8. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 02:37.1096 (229.139) 9. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 02:37.1265 (229.115)
Row 4
10. (77) Oriol Servia, Honda, 02:37.1638 (229.060) 11. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 02:37.5679 (228.473) 12. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 02:37.8747 (228.029)
Row 5
13. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 02:37.9007 (227.991) 14. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 02:37.9161 (227.969) 15. (6) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 02:37.9809 (227.876)
Row 6
16. (42) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 02:38.0180 (227.822) 17. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 02:38.1141 (227.684) 18. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 02:38.2906 (227.430)
Row 7
19. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 02:38.2919 (227.428) 20. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 02:38.4325 (227.226) 21. (19) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 02:38.4566 (227.192)
Row 8
22. (8) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 02:38.8100 (226.686) 23. (24) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 02:38.9851 (226.436) 24. (18) Conor Daly, Honda, 02:39.0721 (226.312)
Row 9
25. (63) Pippa Mann, Honda, 02:39.2877 (226.006) 26. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 02:39.4002 (225.847) 27. (61) Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, 02:39.4846 (225.727)
Row 10
28. (88) Bryan Clauson, Honda, 02:39.8111 (225.266) 29. (16) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 02:40.1087 (224.847) 30. (25) Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, 02:40.2833 (224.602)
Row 11
31. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 02:40.2878 (224.596) 32. (4) Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, 02:42.0498 (222.154) 33. (35) Alex Tagliani, Honda, No time (No speed)

We will have a preview and predictions for the 500 later this week as well as more photos from Qualifying Weekend and Tom Firth’s final chapter in his Indianapolis 500 Retrospective series.

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ShocksAndAwe
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ShocksAndAwe

Rossi P11. Pretty impressive.

J. Doug Patterson
Editor

Rossi was impressive all weekend. I’m excited to see how he does on Sunday.

ShocksAndAwe
Member
ShocksAndAwe

Guess he did okay. :-)

MIE
Editor

what is the reason for the cars slowing down over the four laps, is it tyre degradation?

J. Doug Patterson
Editor

Tire degradation is part of it. Focus is a large part, too. The cars are so trimmed out that they’re right on the edge of losing control the entire time. The focus and concentration required are intense, and it’s hard to keep that ideal line for four consecutive laps. There were those who improved throughout their runs, though. Spencer Pigot, for example ran a 224.277, 224.384, 225.035, and 225.699. I’m sure he wishes he could have run a few more laps.