Sport Rainy practices makes pole favorites hard to find at Indy

03:23  20 may  2017
03:23  20 may  2017 Source:   Associated Press

After making run at Indy 500 pole, Alonso to start 5th

  After making run at Indy 500 pole, Alonso to start 5th Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will start fifth in his Indianapolis 500 debut next weekend. He finished with a four-lap average of 231.300 mph in qualifying Sunday — after making an engine change. RELATED: Dixon takes Indy poleThe Spaniard was the first driver to top 231 on all four laps. It's the first time he's competed on an oval."He's proving why he's one of the best in the world," Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi said afterward.Rossi ended Alonso's hopes of becoming the first rookie to win the pole.For a few minutes, Alonso was on top of the IndyCar world.

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Sebastien Bourdais, of France, unpacks his helmet as he prepares to drive during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 19, 2017 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)© The Associated Press Sebastien Bourdais, of France, unpacks his helmet as he prepares to drive during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 19, 2017 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Sebastien Bourdais took a deep breath Friday.

After an early race-day exit last weekend and an engine change Thursday night, he moved into position to contend for the Indianapolis 500 pole.

The Dale Coyne Racing driver jumped to the top of the speed chart with some extra horsepower, posting the fastest lap of the week at 233.116 mph. Now the Frenchman and everyone else in Gasoline Alley must wait to see if the constantly changing leader board creates a wide-open pole shootout this weekend.

Carpenter takes top spot in crash-marred Indy 500 qualifying

  Carpenter takes top spot in crash-marred Indy 500 qualifying Two-time pole winner Ed Carpenter had the fastest car in Indianapolis 500 qualifying Saturday with a four-lap average of 230.468 mph. He finished just ahead of Takuma Sato and 2008 race winner Scott Dixon. Sato was second at 230.382. Dixon was third at 230.333.

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"It's pretty exciting just to be in the mix, knowing that we seemingly have a chance to do well in qualifying," Bourdais said. "Every other time I've been there, I've never been in contention to really be any kind of factor, and that's just boring. When you're in that position where you know there's going to be something you can do to actually play at the front, then hopefully it happens, because it's a heck of a lot more fun."

The practice sessions haven't provided much help sorting out what to expect in qualifying.

Many teams started the week in race trim, rather than using the quicker, lighter qualifying setups. The result: Five different drivers from five different teams found themselves in the No. 1 spot on the leaderboard.

And until drivers got the extra boost Friday, the fastest lap of the week came from Jay Howard — a 36-year-old driver, whose only career Indy start came in 2011. He went 226.774 on Thursday.

IndyCar drivers robbed at Taco Bell drive-thru

  IndyCar drivers robbed at Taco Bell drive-thru Indy 500 driver Scott Dixon and retired racer Dario Franchitti were robbed at gunpoint in a Taco Bell drive-thru Sunday night, according to an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Report. Dixon’s wife, Emma Davies-Dixon, was also with the two drivers. According to the police report, the robbery occurred around 10 p.m. ET, just hours after Dixon won the pole position in the 101st running of the Indy 500. The Taco Bell is less than a mile away from the racetrack.

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The weather hasn't cooperated, either.

After dealing with high winds Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, rain washed out more than 2 1/2 hours of what was expected to be a busy final full day of practice before the first day of qualifying.

More rain is expected Friday night, which could leave drivers with little rubber on the track when qualifying begins Saturday. More rain is expected both days of qualifying, too.

The one constant, of course, is everybody expects Team Penske again to be in contention again.

IndyCar Grand Prix winner Will Power and three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves have alternated the first five pole wins this season and finished one-two in practice Tuesday.

"You put 33 drivers running to the limit, we're talking about knife's edge," Castroneves said. "We're going through four corners for four laps and absolutely doing everything you can to hang onto the last lap, or the last two laps."

Dixon takes 3rd Indy pole with fastest speeds in 21 years

  Dixon takes 3rd Indy pole with fastest speeds in 21 years Scott Dixon had the fastest lap and the fastest four-lap qualifying average in 21 years Sunday to win his third Indianapolis 500 pole. The New Zealander finished with a qualifying speed of 232.164 mph, the best since Arie Luyendyk's track record of 236.986 in 1996. Dixon's first lap of 232.595 also was the fastest since Luyendyk's record lap of 237.498 in 1996. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver will be joined on the front row by Ed Carpenter, a two-time pole winner who finished second at 231.664. Defending race champion Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport will start on the outside of Row 1 after going 231.487.

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Penske's other three drivers — two-time race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, defending series champion Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden — each have started on Indy's three-car front row in the past. Montoya was fifth Friday at 231.682, the fastest Chevrolet driver on the track.

Newgarden and Pagenaud each have one race win this season.

So the bigger question might be who poses the biggest threat to breaking up Penske's monopoly?

Team owner Michael Andretti has six cars trying to make the field and his son, Marco, had the fastest car on opening day. Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indy winner, finished among the five fastest each of the four days he turned laps.

Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, another of Andretti's drivers, posted his best lap of the week Friday, at 231.827. He wound up No. 4 on the speed chart on just his sixth day on the 2.5-mile oval.

"I think it's very impressive, though it's kind of what we expected," said Takuma Sato, another of Andretti's drivers who was third-fastest Friday at 231.969. "Obviously, Fernando is known as one of the best drivers in the world and having this much practice time and support from the team, we thought he would get it up to speed very quickly and he did."

Young drivers could create changing of guard at Indianapolis

  Young drivers could create changing of guard at Indianapolis Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles walks a fine line each May. Like many longtime Indianapolis 500 fans, Boles reveres the history of the race. As a promoter, he also understands the series needs new blood to expand the fan base and help the 500 keeps its title as the world's largest single-day sporting event.

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Owner-driver Ed Carpenter, a two-time Indy pole winner, was the fastest in Wednesday's abbreviated practice. He finished just ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing star Scott Dixon, who won in 2008 from the pole.

With so much experience up front, so many polished contenders and so many potential changes, anything could happen at Indianapolis — and everybody knows it.

"It's a tricky place," Bourdais said. "When you get any sense of consistency through different conditions, sunny, shade, different track temps, humidity, wind, it always gives you confidence. You never know what's going to come at you the next day."

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More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

Related photos: Indy 500 winner the year you were born (provided by Yardbarker)

Alexander Rossi: <p>With an average speed of 166.6 miles per hour, American Alexander Rossi took home the checkered flag at the 2016 Indy 500. It was his first victory in the heralded race.</p> Who won Indianapolis 500 the year you were born?

All eyes on Alonso in a wide-open Indianapolis 500 field .
One of IndyCar's all-time greats will lead the field to green at the Indianapolis 500. All eyes, though, will be one row behind Scott Dixon as Fernando Alonso makes his debut in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Alonso has never raced on an oval before, never raced an Indy car and hasn't done a rolling start in 20 years — and that was in a go-kart.So, yeah, Alonso lingered long after all the other competitors in the final driver meeting before Sunday's race.

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