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Pigot Tops Indy 500 First-Day Qualifying | Alonso, Hinchcliffe in Jeopardy

First-day qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge provided all the excitement, drama and surprises expected – and more.

As a result, the fastest 30 drivers from Saturday are locked into the field for the 103rd running of the race on Sunday, May 26. The top nine advance to a shootout for the pole position on Sunday and a pair of high-profile drivers were left on the outside looking in and hoping to qualify for the last row, also on Sunday.

Spencer Pigot put together the fastest four-lap qualifications attempt Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at an average speed of 230.083 mph on the 2.5-mile oval. The driver of the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet was joined in the top nine by teammates Ed Jones (sixth in the No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet) and team owner Ed Carpenter (seventh in the No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet).

Team Penske also advanced three drivers to the Fast Nine Shootout. Defending Indy 500 winner Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet) was second fastest overall, finishing his 10-mile qualifying run a scant 0.0011 of a second slower than Pigot. Simon Pagenaud was third in the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet and Josef Newgarden fourth in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Chevrolet.

Also qualifying in the top nine were NTT IndyCar Series rookie Colton Herta (fifth in the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda), 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi (eighth in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) and Sebastien Bourdais (ninth in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda). The Fast Nine Shootout to determine the NTT P1 Award winner and starting order of the Indy 500’s first three rows starts at 1:15 p.m. ET Sunday and airs as part of NBC’s live coverage of Indy 500 pole/bump day that runs from noon-3 p.m.

At the other end of the grid, Pippa Mann held onto the 30th and final locked-in position Saturday with a four-lap run at 227.244 mph in the No. 39 Driven2SaveLives Chevrolet for Clauson-Marshall Racing. It provided vindication for the only female driver entered in this year’s Indy 500, a year after she was one of two drivers who failed to qualify for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The other driver who failed to qualify in 2018, James Hinchcliffe, is in danger of missing the show again after crashing his primary No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in a qualifying attempt at 1:24 p.m. Saturday. Hinchcliffe’s crew scrambled to prepare his backup car and had it on track within 2.5 hours. The 2016 Indy 500 pole sitter made three late qualifying attempts in the No. 5T entry, but none was fast enough to lock him into the field.

Also unable to muster a qualifying effort good enough was two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, who made five attempts in the No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet. The last try averaged 227.224 mph but was the final speed bumped from the top 30 – first by JR Hildebrand in the No. 48 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet and again by Graham Rahal, who withdrew a previously qualified speed that was in the top 30 and re-qualified the No. 15 United Rentals Honda in 17th position.

The drivers who qualified in the 10th through 30th positions are locked into those grid positions for the race. Six drivers – Alonso, Hinchcliffe, Max Chilton, Kyle Kaiser, Sage Karam and Patricio O’Ward – will compete in the Last Row Shootout at 12:15 p.m. Sunday. Each driver will make one qualifying attempt, with the fastest three earning the final spots in the field.

The Fast Nine Shootout follows at 1:15 p.m., with those drivers each making a four-lap run in reverse order of their speeds from Saturday.

A full-field practice follows the Fast Nine Shootout, from 3:15-6 p.m. Sunday, and air live on NBCSN.

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