Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Ed Carpenter will start on the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 in consecutive years after topping James Hinchcliffe in the final day of qualifying on Sunday.
Carpenter, the driver/owner of the No. 20 car and an Indianapolis native, posted a four-lap average speed of 231.067 mph to grab the top starting position for next Sunday's 500-mile race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was the last driver who made his qualifying run in the "Fast Nine" shootout. Carpenter was quickest in day 1 of qualifying on Saturday (230.661 mph).
One year ago, Carpenter won the Indy 500 pole with a four-lap average of 228.762 mph. His qualifying run this year was the fastest since 2003 when Helio Castroneves won the pole (231.725 mph).
"It was a harder run than last year," Carpenter said. "It was a fight. The conditions changed. This is the most different it's been over the two days of qualifying. I think you saw a lot of guys struggle. There was a lot more inconsistency in the four laps than what we saw yesterday. I knew what the average was, so I was hanging on and giving it all I had. It was enough for today."
Carpenter finished 10th in the 2013 Indy 500, despite leading the most laps with 37.
He became the 10th driver to score back-to-back poles for the Indy 500. Scott Brayton most recently did it from 1995-96.
"It's awesome to do this two years in a row," Carpenter said. "I was surprised last year. We felt coming into it this year that we would have a chance of winning the pole. It's all about the race. We won the pole but finished 10th in the race last year. I wasn't happy with that. Hopefully, we'll be able to close the deal this year."
Hinchcliffe held the provisional pole until Carpenter completed his run. Hinchcliffe's four-lap average at 230.839 mph earned him the middle of row 1.
"That car was so fast, and it was so on edge, which is exactly how you need to have it for qualifying at Indy," said Hinchcliffe, who drives the No. 27 car for Andretti Autosport. "I got into turn 3 on that last lap, and it stepped out of the rear and then understeered. I then had to crack the throttle. I don't think anybody has sat on the pole at this track after cracking the throttle."
Eight days ago, Hinchcliffe suffered a concussion when flying debris hit him during the IndyCar road-course race at IMS. He was medically cleared to resume his driving duties on Thursday. E.J. Viso had been driving Hinchcliffe's No. 27 car in practice earlier in the week.
Will Power, the current points leader in the IndyCar Series, claimed the outside of the first row at 230.697 mph.
Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 winner and Power's teammate at Team Penske, qualified fourth. He will share row 2 with Simon Pagenaud, who won last weekend's road-course race here, and Marco Andretti.
Carlos Munoz, Josef Newgarden and J.R. Hildebrand will start from row 3. The first three rows were determined during the shootout.
Earlier in the day, positions 10-33 were decided in group 1. Juan Pablo Montoya was quickest in that group (231.007 mph), giving him the 10th starting position. Montoya will share row 4 with Scott Dixon, the defending IndyCar champion, and Kurt Busch, who will attempt the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 double on the same day.
"It was a great qualifying effort," Busch said. "It's been great all the way around. Each day has been a nice amount of progress that I've shown the [No. 26 Andretti Autosport] team. The team was ready to give me next step, and here we are."
Tony Kanaan, who won the Indy 500 for the first time last year, qualified 16th.
All 33 drivers who attempted qualifying made the starting field for the race.