IndyCar: Hinchcliffe Returns to Indy And Wins Pole

James Hinchcliffe will look to bounce back from a scary season-ending crash in 2015. Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
James Hinchcliffe will look to bounce back from a scary season-ending crash in 2015. Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports /

In a remarkable comeback story for the Verizon IndyCar Series, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe will lead the 100th Indianapolis 500 to the green flag. Hinchcliffe, who came perilously close to losing his life in a horrifying crash during practice one year ago, was able to bump Josef Newgarden out of the top spot in the final run of the day.

After a day of qualifying that essentially didn’t matter beyond deciding who would be in the “Fast Nine” and have a shot at the pole, the 33 drivers trying to set the field for the ‘500’ came back for an eventful Pole Day. It started with the drivers who failed to make the cut for the pole shootout. Largely uneventful, the first phase of Pole Day did have its moments.

First, A.J. Foyt Racing’s Alex Tagliani got loose coming out of Turn Four and was unable to correct. He ended up slamming the inside wall and spinning down the frontstretch. He would fail to record a speed and will start dead last on Race Day. After that, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon made a triumphant return to the qualifying line after an engine malfunction earlier in the day put more drama into his qualifying run. He wound up 13th.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Notably, Penske Racing’s Juan Pablo Montoya was on the charge toward the 10th position when his run was ruined by a garbage bag that had found its way onto the track. He ran over and momentarily trapped the bag under his car during his attempt. The resulting time would have put him in the 32nd position on the grid, but he was allowed a second run. He will start 17th.

Then, Newgarden set the bar for the Fast Nine Shootout. His four-lap average of 230.700 mph would withstand challenges from drivers including Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Newgarden’s first lap of the attempt, which was at more than 231 mph, proved to be the fastest of the day. His overall speed, however, would not hold.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe was the last driver to take a run at the pole. The first lap was good enough to take the top spot, but each subsequent lap was a tick slower and kept open the question of who would lead the field. Hinchcliffe’s final lap was just fast enough as his four-lap average only beat Newgarden by a minuscule 0.0407 of a second.

Hinchcliffe’s run gives Honda its first pole position at Indianapolis in five years. It’s also the Japanese company’s first Indy pole since Chevrolet re-joined the Verizon IndyCar Series. Honda’s last pole position came 31 races ago with the Houston street race in 2014. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was also the team that managed both of those pole wins. This may be further evidence that the Honda updates are working and those teams may have turned a corner in the competition against their Chevy counterparts.

Here is the official starting field for the 100th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race:


James Hinchcliffe, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 230.760 mph

Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 230.700 mph

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 230.648 mph


Townsend Bell, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 230.481 mph

Carlos Munoz, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 230.287 mph

Will Power, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 229.669 mph


Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 229.562 mph

Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 229.139 mph

Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 229.115 mph


Oriol Servia, Honda, Schmidt Peterson with Marotti Racing, 229.060 mph

Alexander Rossi, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 228.473 mph

Takuma Sato, Honda, A.J. Foyt Racing, 228.029 mph


Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 227.991 mph

Marco Andretti, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 227.969 mph

JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 227.876 mph


Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 227.822 mph

Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 227.684 mph

Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 227.430 mph


Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology, 227.428 mph

Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 227.226 mph

Gabby Chaves, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 227.192 mph


Max Chilton, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 226.686 mph

Sage Karam, Honda, DRR-Kingdom Racing, 226.436 mph

Conor Daly, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 226.312 mph


Pippa Mann, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 226.006 mph

Graham Rahal, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 225.847 mph

Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, PIRTEK Team Murray, 225.727 mph

ROW 10

Bryan Clauson, Honda, Dale Coyne/Jonathan Byrd Racing, 225.266 mph

Spencer Pigot, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 224.847 mph

Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology, 224.602 mph

ROW 11

Jack Hawksworth, Honda, A.J. Foyt Racing, 224.596 mph

Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, Lazier-Burns Racing, 222.154 mph

Alex Tagliani, Honda, A.J. Foyt Racing, No Speed (Incomplete Attempt)

Next: IndyCar: The End of Spec Racing?

The 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil is scheduled for 12:12 p.m. on Sunday, May 29th. The race, and the pre-race coverage, will air on the ABC Network. The broadcast begins at 11:00 a.m. on May 29th.