INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Simon Pagenaud has won the pole for the Indianapolis 500, strengthening his case for keeping his job at Team Penske.
Pagenaud averaged 229.992 mph in four laps of Sunday qualifying to lock down the top spot for the May 26 race. Pagenaud has been in the rumor mill for some time because of a long losing streak that he finally snapped last week on the road course around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Now he’s on the pole for the race boss Roger Penske rates most important. Penske has a record 17 wins in the Indianapolis 500 and this year is marking his 50th anniversary in the race.
Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot qualified second and third for a Chevrolet sweep of the front row.
Pagenaud has 11 career poles.
Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was knocked out of the Indianapolis 500 when he failed to qualify for next week’s race on the second and final day of qualifying on the 2.5-mile oval.
The Spaniard left on a golf cart with his McLaren Racing team after Kyle Kaiser bumped Alonso from the 33rd and final starting spot with the final run in the six-car last row shootout. Kaiser’s four-lap qualifying average of 227.372 mph was just a tick better than Alonso at 227.353.
Kaiser was running in a backup car after crashing in practice Friday.
Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe avoided missing the race for the second straight year. He was the first one out after a rain delay of more than four hours and averaged 227.543. He will start 32nd for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
American Sage Karam had the fastest run of the session, qualifying 31st with an average of 227.740. Both Dreyer & Reinbold Racing cars are now in the race.
Carlin teammates Patricio O’Ward of Mexico and Max Chilton of England also went home after failing to qualify.