Indy 500 qualifying: Carpenter fastest, battle of Americans for final Fast Nine positions

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When all was said and done, the underdogs slayed the giants yet again when it came to those who made the Fast Nine shootout for Sunday’s second round of qualifying for the 98th Indianapolis 500.

The breakdown of teams that made the Fast Nine shootout? Three Andretti Autosport entries, two Ed Carpenter Racing entries, two Team Penske entries, and a single entry from Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.

Among the teams that didn’t? Neither Chip Ganassi Racing (four cars, plus the fifth affiliated entry for Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing) nor KV Racing Technology (four cars) – the teams that have won the last two Indianapolis 500s – got anywhere near the Fast Nine.

Ed Carpenter was fastest after the first run and the defending Indianapolis 500 pole sitter has achieved the maximum number of possible points today, after a second run within the last hour and a half of running was the day’s fastest at 230.661 mph.

But the drama came down to the final couple spots in the Fast Nine depending on whether teams opted to withdraw times and need to set a flier from Lane 1 (the express lane), or make another qualifying attempt from Lane 2 and leave their original time vacant.

The final 15 minutes saw SFHR’s Josef Newgarden break in and ECR’s Indianapolis-only second driver, JR Hildebrand, hold on, while 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Andretti team took the withdraw their time option and they were not able to break back into the Fast Nine.

Kurt Busch was ultimately 10th after feeling like he had given everything he could, although he needed to leave for Charlotte before making another attempt in the final couple hours.

Here’s a full breakdown of the qualifying runs. Points will be awarded from 33 down to 1 depending on the positions from today; this also determines the pit positions for the Indianapolis 500, held May 25.

The actual run for the pole, with those Fast 9 participants, as well as the remaining spots 10-33, will be determined tomorrow. Teams have until 7 p.m. ET tonight to enter an extra car, and that appears unlikely.


Rosberg delighted with near-perfect lap en route to Russia pole

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 10:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg believes that he produced a near-perfect lap en route to pole position for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.113 to beat Mercedes teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton to pole position by three-tenths of a second.

The result marked Rosberg’s third pole position of the season, and is the first time he has scored back-to back poles since the end of 2014.

Conditions in practice on Friday plus a scary crash for Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. on Saturday meant that the field headed into qualifying almost blind in terms of setup and car balance, but Rosberg was pleased with what he achieved.

“It was a tricky session today as we were not able to practise a lot yesterday,” Rosberg explained. “We had to guess what the right set up for this track will be.

“But we nailed it and had a nearly perfect lap in my first run in Q3. So I’m quite pleased with that.

“I’m in the best possible position for tomorrow, which is great. I really hope for a clean race, it will be a great battle with Lewis.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff praised Rosberg for his consistently quick display in practice and qualifying, but believes that the lack of practice running will also have an impact on Sunday’s race.

“A great job from Nico to take a second pole position in a row; he has been quick all weekend and kept that going through qualifying to take P1,” Wolff said.

“For the race, it will be a bit of a journey into the unknown because we have not had much running this weekend. This track is tough on the rear tires and everybody will be watching the tire degradation carefully.

“We’re starting from the best possible position but we need to take everything one step at a time.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

WEC: Porsche sweeps to front row lock-out in Fuji

Car #17 / PORSCHE TEAM (DEU) / Porsche 919 Hybrid Hybrid  / Timo Bernhard (DEU) / Mark Webber (AUS) / Brendon Hartley (NZL) Qualifying LMP1 & LMP2 - 6 Hours of Fuji at Fuji International Speedway - Shizuoka - Japan
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Porsche extended its streak of pole positions in the FIA World Endurance Championship to nine races by locking out the front row of the grid for the 6 Hours of Fuji on Saturday.

Sharing qualifying duties in the no. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard posted a two-lap average of 1:22.763 seconds to give the German marque pole position at Fuji Speedway.

Yet again, it was the sister no. 18 Porsche of Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas that put up the most stringent challenge, but fell three-tenths of a second short at the end of the LMP qualifying session.

Audi put up more of a fight to the Porsches this time around as both of its R18 e-tron quattros finished within half a second of the no. 17’s time. The no. 7 of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer will start third ahead of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis in the no 8.

Toyota endured another fairly routine qualifying en route to P5 and P6 as the TS 040 Hybrid car struggles to keep up with its rivals, beating only the Rebellion and ByKolles runners in LMP1.

In LMP2, G-Drive continued its dominant streak by finishing first and second in class. Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal will start from pole tomorrow ahead of Gustavo Yacaman, Luis Felipe Derani and Ricardo Gonzalez in the sister car.

AF Corse bounced back from a difficult race in Austin to finish first and second in GTE Pro qualifying, led by the no. 71 of James Calado and Davide Rigon. Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni will start just behind in P2 ahead of the no. 99 Aston Martin Racing entry.

Ferrari’s strong form carried over into GTE Am as well as the SMP Racing F458 Italia took class pole, finishing three-tenths clear of the no. 98 AMR Vantage.