BY JIM MILLER WEEKLY INDYCAR WRITER
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:
James Hinchcliffe, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, Andretti Autosport
Townsend Bell, Honda, Andretti Autosport
Carlos Munoz, Honda, Andretti Autosport
Will Power, Chevrolet, Team Penske
Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, Team Penske
Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, Team Penske
Oriol Servia, Honda, Schmidt Peterson with Marotti Racing
Alexander Rossi, Honda, Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian
Takuma Sato, Honda, AJ Foyt Racing
Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
Marco Andretti, Honda, Andretti Autosport
JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing
Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, Team Penske
Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, KVSH Racing
Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing
Gabby Chaves, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing
Max Chilton, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing
Sage Karam, Chevrolet, Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing
Conor Daly, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing
Pippa Mann, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing
Graham Rahal, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, PIRTEK Team Murray
Bryan Clauson, Honda, Dale Coyne / Jonathan Byrd’s Racing
Spencer Pigot, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology
Jack Hawksworth, Honda, AJ Foyt Racing
Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, Lazier/Burns Racing
Alex Tagliani, Honda, AJ Foyt Racing