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Honda, Hinchcliffe get overnight bragging rights at Indy

May 22, 2016
Hinch at speed T1

2016 is a far cry from last year for James Hinchcliffe, who was quickest in preliminary, Saturday qualifying with Honda – Anne Proffit photo

The grid for this year’s majestic 100th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be way more diverse than last year, especially at the pointy end. Where 2015 yielded seven Chevrolet entries and two Honda’s in the nine driver/car shootout for pole position, this year it’s a heck of a lot more balanced.

While Pole Day is Sunday, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ convoluted exercise of qualifying at Indy has the top nine defined after the end of qualifying on Saturday, and those drivers and cars will compete for the No. 1 starting position. As there are only 33 entries on the grounds, the balance of the field’s starting positions will be determined by each car’s single 4-lap, 10-mile trip around the historic 2.5-mile Brickyard oval.

In either instance the sequence begins with the slowest car from Saturday, beginning at 2:45PM with the three drivers that didn’t qualify today (Max Chilton after a practice crash, Pippa Mann following her qualifying wall tap and Gabby Chaves, who withdrew a 227 and waived his second try) on to 30th placed Buddy Lazier and then goes to the fastest of the 24, rookie Alexander Rossi in 10th, determining positions 10-33.

Hinch mug

James Hinchcliffe gave Schmidt Peterson Motorsports bragging rights heading into Pole Day for the 100th Indianapolis 500 – Anne Proffit photo

The Fast Nine shootout, which takes place late in the afternoon begins with the hot hand of Simon Pagenaud in ninth place and off to James Hinchcliffe, quickest of all in late Saturday qualifying. In the top nine are four different teams: Hinchcliffe and birthday boy Mikhail Aleshin (7th) for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Townsend Bell and Carlos Munoz on Andretti Autosport’s team, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Pagenaud for Team Penske, whose 50th birthday exhibit at the Speedway’s museum is not to be missed and Josef Newgarden, sixth in Saturday time trials for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Did you notice? Five Honda cars and four Chevrolets. That’s news.

Of course the weather is vastly different today as there’s barely a cloud in the sky as I write this late morning, but winds are changeable. We’ll have to see, following two practice sessions, how this affects everyone, won’t we?

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