SPEEDWAY — Ed Carpenter channeled his inner David as he slayed the Goliath teams of Andretti Autosport and Team Penske Saturday for the pole position of the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Carpenter, the single car owner and driver of Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, outran the other eight drivers in the Fast Nine Shootout and won the pole with a four-lap average of 228.762 mph.
“This is a good start,” Carpenter said. “I want to make sure we keep focused because I hope this is part one of a really magical month. We’re here for race day but this is awesome.”
Carpenter was fifth quickest before the fast nine was reset for the shootout. Team Penske’s Will Power was fastest before the reshuffle and was the last driver with a shot to knock Carpenter off the pole. But his four-lap average of 228.087 mph was only good enough for sixth.
All three cars of Team Penske and all five cars of Andretti Autosport will start behind the single-car operation of Carpenter’s.
It was the adjustments made by all of the teams from the first run to the shootout that Carpenter believes helped him win P1.
“The Penske cars were even more aggressive, took more downforce off and I think that was a mistake,” he said. “That’s what we were hoping for going into it that someone was going to overstep. We didn’t want to be too conservative but we were hoping someone was going to go too far. Luckily we had the speed in the Fuzzy’s Vodka machine to go faster than the Andretti cars.”
It is the first time that the Indianapolis native and Butler graduate will lead the field to green for the 500. Carpenter has lived in Indy since he was 8-years-old and is the stepson of former IMS president Tony George. The hometown driver holds the race in the highest of esteem but keeps it in perspective as well.