INDIANAPOLIS -- Powerful stuff Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Ed Carpenter, whose family owns the track, won the pole for next weekend's Indianapolis 500.
Carpenter posted a four-lap average of 228.762 mph and watched it hold up as four other IndyCar drivers took a shot at him in the rain-delayed Fast Nine Shootout.
Carpenter, the 32-year-old stepson of Indy Racing League founder Tony George, has spent most of his life in Indiana, moving to Indianapolis when he was 8 years old. He owns the small team that bears his name (Ed Carpenter Racing).
But he stressed that he won't lose focus on the big prize, which will be there to win May 26.
"A little bit (of celebrating), but I love the race a whole lot more than qualifying," he said. "I really want to send a message and make sure I lead by example to the team and make sure we don't forget why we're really here.
"This is fun, and it's huge for our team, I don't want (people) to think that it's not. But the pole won't mean much if we don't go out and perform on race day."
Carpenter led a 10-car Chevrolet brigade that dusted the Hondas. But that was only part of the story.
A rookie, Carlos Munoz, grabbed the second starting spot for the May 26 race with a qualifying effort of 228.342 mph. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti will start third at 228.261 mph.
Munoz, the points leader of IndyCar's junior series, known as Firestone Indy Lights, has the highest starting position for a rookie since another Colombian, Juan Pablo Montoya, in 2000. Montoya won that race.
The second row will have EJ Viso, A.J. Allmendinger and Will Power, who entered the Fast Nine Shootout with the quickest time. But like the other top four, Power's second qualifying run was slower than the one posted in the afternoon.
The third row for the 500 will be reigning IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, three-time race winner Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe.
Carpenter won $100,000 for the pole, but the publicity his team will get will be worth more than that.
Carpenter will be losing his team manager, Derrick Walker, to a senior position with IndyCar after the race. Walker will become president of operations and competition.
Twenty-four drivers secured positions, with the fastest 10 powered by Chevrolet. The first Honda was Alex Tagliani in the 11th spot for Barracuda Racing.
Dario Franchitti, who won last year's race, was part of Ganassi Racing's struggle with Honda. Franchitti will go for his record-tying fourth 500 victory from the 17th starting position. That's one spot deeper than he started from a year ago. His first two wins came from the third position.
Franchitti's teammates will start 16th (Scott Dixon), 19th (Charlie Kimball) and 23rd (Ryan Briscoe). Briscoe won the pole last year for Team Penske. Dixon won the 2008 500 from the pole.
| Given the competitiveness of IndyCar, Carpenter said there will be a lot of contenders for the 97th driver spot on the BorgWarner Trophy.
"This track and race mean a lot to the other 32 guys that are going to start the race, too," he said. "I don't think it's just special to me."
Drivers will fight for positions for positions at the rear of the starting grid in Sunday's qualifying sessions. Among that group are 1996 500 winner Buddy Lazier and projected contender Graham Rahal, Ana Beatriz, Pippa Mann, Josef Newgarden, Michel Jourdain Jr., Katherine Legge, Sebastian Saavedra and rookies Conor Daly and Tristan Vautier.
Legge is the latest driver to join the field. She picked up a ride on Saturday morning; the No. 81 of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which has Pagenaud in the field and Vautier trying to get there. She has not turned a lap this month.
Daly, the son of former driver Derek Daly, lost a cylinder in his Honda engine during a qualifying run, a continuation of a difficult month for the Indianapolis native. He crashed Thursday in Turn 1, forcing the A.J. Foyt Racing crew to rebuild his car.