James Hinchcliffe grabs Indy 500 pole
James Hinchcliffe celebrates winning the pole for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 on May 22, 2016 (photo courtesy of IndyCar).
INDIANAPOLIS – Drama, redemption, heartbreak, exuberance. Armed Forces Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had it all as starting positions were set for the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
James Hinchcliffe, who nearly lost his life at the same track a year ago in a crash during Indianapolis 500 practice, put together a scintillating four-lap run of 230.760 mph as the final driver of the day in the Fast Nine Shootout. It allowed the Canadian fan favorite to claim the Verizon P1 Award and $100,000 prize for earning the pole position and the right to lead the 33-car field to the green flag to start the epic race May 29.
Driving the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Hinchcliffe collected the first pole of his Verizon IndyCar Series career in what will be his 79th race, edging Josef Newgarden for the honor by a mere 0.0407 of a second over the 10-mile run.
“I came into this month hoping we’d have a new story to talk about after what happened last year and I think we did it,” an emotional Hinchcliffe said on pit lane. “I can’t believe it. I’m honestly at a loss for words, which everyone knows is rare for me.
“The Arrow Electronics car was an absolute smoke show out there. It was right on the edge. (Lead engineer) Allen McDonald and all my engineers did such a great job, everybody at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson put me in the car and gave me the car to do it. Three Schmidt Peterson cars (qualifying) in the top 10 is incredible.”