Race Weekend Central

The Frontstretch 5: Drivers Most Likely to Earn Pole Position for Indy 500

1. Ed Jones

Ed Jones turned the fastest lap Friday without the tow, meaning Jones had the fastest lap in qualifying trim with the added speed. Jones has a career-best start of fourth last season at Belle Isle in Detroit. He started fifth last weekend in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which is his second-best start.

On ovals, he has a best starting position of eighth, coming in 2017 and 2018 at Iowa Speedway. His career-best start in the Indianapolis 500 came in 2017 where he started 11th and went on to finish third.

The non-tow speed that Jones has behind the wheel of the Ed Carpenter Racing entry has us thinking the Dubai native could earn his first-career pole come Sunday.

2. Will Power

Will Power led a good chunk of this weeks combined practice session. In fact, before Friday (May 17) with Conor Daly, Power turned the fastest lap of the week. The defending Indianapolis 500 champion has the experience of winning the race now, and that should help him go all out Sunday during qualifying.

Power has 56 career poles but not a single one has come in the Indianapolis 500. The No. 12 team will look to earn Roger Penske’s first pole position in the Indianapolis 500 since 2012, when Ryan Briscoe tallied the pole. His consistent speed during this week has Power one of the favorites to win his 57th career pole in the NTT Data IndyCar Series.

3. Ed Carpenter

Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt and Helio Castroneves all have four poles a piece in the Indianapolis 500, and on Sunday, Ed Carpenter will look to add his name to that list. Carpenter had the second fastest non-tow speed during Friday’s practice. With that and the experience of winning poles at Indy, Carpenter knows how to play the game that could benefit him.

Carpenter is looking to do something that hasn’t been done since he did it in 2013 and 2014 and that is win back-to-back poles in the Indianapolis 500.

Should Carpenter earn the pole on Sunday, he would tie 10 other drivers for 58th on the all-time poles list. He would be on the same level as Emil Andres, Paul Russo, Bob Sweikert, Greg Moore, Scott Pruett, Patrick Carpentier, Arie Luyendyk, Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti.

4. Alexander Rossi

The 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner has been making slow but steady strides the last few weekends, including winning in Long Beach. The month of May didn’t start out to well for Alexander Rossi finishing 22nd in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Rossi has shown speed this weekend, including on Friday on the non-tow charts, placing third.

With some adjustments during the morning practice sessions before qualifying, Rossi could be one of those who could land the provisional pole leading into Sunday’s Fast Nine qualifications.

His career-best start in the Indianapolis 500 came in 2017 when he started third. He has one pole this season, coming a few weeks ago in Long Beach, California. Out of Rossi’s six-career wins, four of them have come when he’s won the pole, meaning if Rossi earns the pole, he may be a sudden favorite to win his second Indianapolis 500.

5. Simon Pagenaud

Power began his strong month of May last year with a victory in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and Simon Pagenaud could become the second straight driver to kickoff a run for the championship, something he hasn’t done since competing with Josef Newgarden for the title in 2017.

He has 11 career poles but hasn’t had an oval pole since Iowa in 2016. He finished fifth on the non-tow practice session on Friday, meaning he has some speed but not enough to win the pole yet. Don’t be surprised to see Pagenaud be a part of the Fast Nine qualifications on Sunday afternoon.

About the author

His favorite tracks on the circuit include Barber Motorsports Park, Iowa Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, and Bristol Motor Speedway.

During the season, Christian also spends time as a photographer with multiple other outlets shooting Monster Energy AMA Supercross, Minor League & Major League Baseball, and NCAA Football.

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