James Hinchcliffe wins pole for Indy 500

BY JIM MILLER
WEEKLY INDYCAR WRITER
INDYCAR

James Hinchcliffe celebrates his winning the pole position in Sunday’s Indy 500 (Photo by INDYCAR Photo – Chris Jones)

Some stories you just can’t imagine to be real. Case in point, one year ago James Hinchcliffe crashed while preparing for the Indy 500 and came within minutes of bleeding to death if it weren’t for the safety crew. The rest of his year was spent having multiple surgeries, followed by physical rehabilitation, and then getting back into a car to see if he could do it again.

Here we are today with Hinchcliffe winning the pole position, his first IndyCar pole ever, for this more-than-historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Courage, resilience, determination, and a great team got him there.

“I came into this month hoping we’d have a new story to talk about after what happened last year and I think we did it,” Hinchcliffe said choking back emotions. “I can’t believe it. I’m honestly at a loss for words, which everyone knows is rare for me.

Hinchcliffe posted a four-lap run average of 230.760 mph in Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout to claim the Verizon P1 Award edging out Josef Newgarden (230.700 mph) who could only stand and watch as the final car beat him by mere milliseconds.

Saturday’s qualifying times sorted the field into the fastest nine drivers who on Sunday ran four new laps to secure the top nine starting positions. The remaining cars qualified for 10th through 33rd positions with four-lap averages earlier in the day. Alex Tagliani will start the race from the back after crashing as he exited Turn 4 to take the green flag for his qualifications attempt. Per the rulebook he will have no qualifying time and start at the rear of the field.

The field of 33 features six former winners (Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, Montoya, Tony Kanaan and Buddy Lazier), and five rookies (Matt Brabham, Max Chilton, Spencer Pigot, Alexander Rossi and Stefan Wilson)

The starting grid for Sunday’s Indy 500 is:

Row 1

James Hinchcliffe, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, Andretti Autosport

Row 2

Townsend Bell, Honda, Andretti Autosport

Carlos Munoz, Honda, Andretti Autosport

Will Power, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Row 3

Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Row 4

Oriol Servia, Honda, Schmidt Peterson with Marotti Racing

Alexander Rossi, Honda, Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian

Takuma Sato, Honda, AJ Foyt Racing

Row 5

Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing

Marco Andretti, Honda, Andretti Autosport

JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing

Row 6

Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing

Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, Team Penske

Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing

Row 7

Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, KVSH Racing

Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing

Gabby Chaves, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing

Row 8

Max Chilton, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing

Sage Karam, Chevrolet, Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing

Conor Daly, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing

Row 9

Pippa Mann, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing

Graham Rahal, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, PIRTEK Team Murray

Row 10

Bryan Clauson, Honda, Dale Coyne / Jonathan Byrd’s Racing

Spencer Pigot, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology

Row 11

Jack Hawksworth, Honda, AJ Foyt Racing

Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, Lazier/Burns Racing

Alex Tagliani, Honda, AJ Foyt Racing