List of Indianapolis 500 pole-sitters

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Ed Carpenter won back-to-back pole positions in 2013 and 2014.

Winners of the Pole position for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. The pole position is the first starting position, and is held in high prestige at Indianapolis. Due to the nature of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, the pole-sitter is currently determined seven days before the race (and in past years as many as 15 days prior). Therefore, the driver and team receives considerable pre-race attention and accolades in the days leading up to the race. In most circumstances, but not necessarily, the pole-sitter is the fastest car in the field.

Verizon currently sponsors a $100,000 award given to the pole winner. Rick Mears holds the all-time record with six career pole positions. Ten drivers have won the pole position in two consecutive years, but no driver has ever won three years in a row. A total of 20 pole position winners went on win the Indy 500 in the respective year.

Background[edit]

Since the first Indy 500 in 1911, all cars have been required speed time trial qualification to race. Since 1939, the "pole position" has been determined by the first day top speed trial test of a 4-lap (10-mile) made on the track singularly by each car. This format differs from traditional "road racing" qualifying, where multiple cars simultaneously are on the track in an "open qualifying" session. It also differs from most other oval races where qualifying speed is based on one single "hot" lap. The theory is that each car, without potential impeding hindrance, could perform their best being alone on the track.

Since 1952, there have been mostly a one four-day time trial scheduled. The fastest speed of the first day/first complete round of qualifying runs wins the pole position. If a driver records a speed faster than that of the pole position winner on a subsequent day (or subsequent round) he does not win the pole position. He instead lines up behind the previous day's qualifiers. Subsequent to 1914, the last year of qualifications not determining the starting grid order, sixteen occasions have seen the pole position-winning entry not recording the fastest overall qualifying speed.

Ironically in modern times, cars can actually drive faster with other cars on the track due to drafting. Nearly every unofficial practice speed record has been achieved with the aid of a tow. Starting roughly around the 1960s, electric eyes and radar guns were used to measure trap speeds at select locations, namely at the end of the long straightaways, in an effort to determine the cars' top speeds. Since the early 1990s, sophisticated electronic scoring devices have been installed at the track and inside the cars to measure additional trap speeds (straightaways, turns, etc.). However, the official scoring only reflects the time and speed at the start/finish line. All other measurements are considered supererogatory.

Early years[edit]

In 1911, the starting grid was determined by the order that entries were received by mail. To qualify for the race, entries had to average 75 miles per hour (121 km/h) along a quarter-mile measured segment of the track. In 1912, all cars were required to complete one timed lap (2.5 miles) at a minimum speed, but the grid order was still determined by the order the entries were received. From 1913 and 1914, all cars completed one timed lap at a minimum speed. Overseas competitors voiced complaints about their entries arriving in the mail later than local entrants, and thus unfairly starting deep in the grid. A compromise was made such that the grid was determined by a blind draw a few days before the race.

Starting in 1915–1919, the grid order was set by one-lap qualifying speed. Though multiple days were allotted for qualifying, drivers were known to wait until the "last minute" to qualify. The Speedway reacted by setting up a slightly retooled format in 1916 such that the first day qualifiers lined up first in the grid by speed. The second day qualifiers would line up behind the first day qualifiers, and so on, regardless if drivers on subsequent days were faster than the first day qualifiers. This encouraged drivers to qualify earlier rather than "last minute."

From 1920 to 1931, the grid was set using 4-lap (10-mile) qualifying runs. From 1932 to 1938, the grid was set using 10-lap (25-mile) qualifying runs. In 1939, they reverted to four-lap runs, and that is still in use today.

In the early decades, qualifying days would typically run until sundown.

Nostalgia[edit]

The term "pole position" is believed to have derived from horse racing. Despite some common misconception, is not so named from the iconic pylon "pole" scoring tower at the track.

The pole position is traditionally (and weather permitting) determined on the first day of time trials, nicknamed "Pole Day." The final day of time trials is nicknamed "Bump Day" or "Bubble Day." When the field is filled to 33 cars, the slowest car in the field is said to be "on the bubble." Additional drivers may attempt to qualify faster and bump their way into the field. The driver is said to have 'bust the other driver's bubble.'

Schedule[edit]

Pole position qualifying, generally referred to as "Pole Day," is currently held on a Saturday the weekend before the day of the race. The actual Pole is determined by the fastest 9 cars in the qualifying round running a shootout later in the afternoon. Two days of qualifying are scheduled in total, the Saturday and Sunday before the race.

Springtime rain in the midwest is often a factor, and over the years, many days of qualifying have been delayed, ended early, or completely washed out due to rain. If pole day is rained out, it is moved to the next qualifying day scheduled. This happened most recently in 2006, when the first two days of qualifying were rained out. Pole position qualifying ended up being held on the third day, followed by what remained the fourth and final day.

In the years when there were four days of time trials, if the second or third day of qualifying were to be rained out, neither would be made up (for example, this happened in 1980). If the final day of time trials ("Bump Day") was rained out, it would not be made up if the field had already filled to 33 cars (for example, this happened in 1984). If Bump Day were to be rained out, and the field was not filled to 33 cars yet, a special session would be held Monday (to date, this has occurred only once, in 1968).

1952–1997[edit]

After WWII, the Speedway management began to standardize the qualifying schedule. For a few years, six days (three weekends) of qualifying were held. Starting in 1952, it was reduced to four days (two weekends). The pole position would be settled on the first day, now nicknamed "Pole Day."

In 1974 only, as a gesture to the ongoing energy crisis, qualifying was reduced to two days – the Saturday two weeks before the race, and the Saturday one week before the race. Both of those two days were divided into two sessions (an "early" period and a "late" period) mimicking the traditional four 'days.' Rain hampered both days, however, and the "four periods" plan was rendered incomplete. The two-day schedule lasted only once year, and in 1975, the Speedway reverted to four days.

Since the race itself was not fixed on the weekend until the early 1970s, it was common prior to then for the final weekend of time trials to occur only a couple days before the race itself (if Memorial Day fell on a weekday early in the week).

1998–2000[edit]

From 1998 to 2000, an experimental "two-week" schedule was adopted for the Indy 500. Time trials was reduced to only two days of qualifying, the Saturday & Sunday one weekend before the race. "Pole day" would be held Saturday, and "Bump day" would be held Sunday. This was an effort to curtail costs, and maximize crowds. The middle two days of qualifying had long suffered from dwindling attendance, participation, and interest.

2001–2004[edit]

From 2001 to 2004, the schedule was changed to three days of qualifying, the Saturday and Sunday two weekends before the race, and the Sunday one week before the race. The additional day allowed make-up time in case of rain, and stretched the month back to the traditional three weekends.

The Saturday immediately before Bump Day was reverted to a regular practice day, and a for a short time, the Freedom 100 was scheduled for that afternoon. The arrangement received mixed reviews, and was eventually scrapped.

2005–2009[edit]

Time trials reverted to four days (two weekends). The procedure also changed (see 11/11/11 below). The Freedom 100, which was on the second Saturday, was moved permanently to Carb Day later in the month.

2010–2014[edit]

The Speedway reinstated the two-week "compressed" schedule, similar to the plan used in 1998–2000. Time trials is scheduled for two days: the Saturday & Sunday one weekend before the race. From 2010-2013, "Pole day" is held Saturday, and "Bump day" is held Sunday. The track opens for practice the weekend before time trials.

Starting in 2014, the two-day qualifying schedule remains, but the procedure itself will be changed such that the pole position will not be determined until Sunday.

Qualifying procedure[edit]

On a given day of qualifying, the track is open for qualifications from 11 a.m. (or 12 noon) to 6 p.m. local time. If there are no cars in line to make an attempt, the track is opened for general practice. The busiest periods of qualifying, due to ambient and track temperatures, are the first hour and the final hour. Due to the lower temperatures and shadows along the track it is common for drivers to wait until late in the day to make their attempts. The car must be moving out of the pits before the 6 o'clock gun for the attempt to count.

Each driver is allowed two warm-up laps before taking the green flag to start the run. Prior to WWII, it is believed that drivers were allowed an unlimited number of warm up laps, and could start their run at any time they deemed themselves ready. From 1946 through 1981, drivers were allowed three warm up laps. In 1982, it was reduced to two,[1] however, officials can allow three once again if they determine that the temperatures are too low, and three laps are needed to gain the necessary tire temperatures.

As the driver is coming around to start the qualifying attempt, a crew member(s) is stationed at the head of the mainstretch and waves a green flag to signify they want to start the run. If he waves a yellow flag, or waves no flag, the run does not start, and an attempt is not counted. At any time prior to completing the four-lap run, the crew can "wave off" the run by holding up the yellow flag. Likewise the driver can pull off the track at any time to abort the run. Prior to 1974, the decision to start the run was made by the driver, who would signal the officials by raising his hand in the air.[2]

Procedure (through 2004)[edit]

During the USAC era, the traditional qualifying procedure went largely unchanged although it may appear complicated to the casual observer. The evening before pole day time trials, a blind draw is used to establish the test order. Before the 1970s, the qualifying order was a "first-come, first-served" line-up presence in the garage area, and could led to heated situations exchanges. Pole day was considered the most significant, popular, and busiest of the speed trial period, and the other three days were more often leisurely and sometimes uneventful.

Singular cars run a four-lap qualifying time to post qualifying speed. Despite the popular commonplace of reporting qualifying speed, officially, the qualifying results are scored by elapsed time. Each car had three attempts to post a qualifying time and whenever the four laps were completed the time was "locked in". During the run, if a driver/team was finding their time going long, they could wave off that run before completing the speed test laps, the yellow flag would be displayed, and one attempt would be charged to the car.

If the locked-in car time was found by the team to be unsatisfactorily, the car was withdrawn and could not be re-qualified in any subsequent test runs, the locked-in time vacated, and aback-up car would have to be used to re-attempt to qualify.

The fastest qualifier on Pole day won the pole position. The pole day qualifiers were lined up by speed rank. There was no set number of qualifiers for pole day, and the total widely varied by year - ranging from as few as 11 (1987) to as many as 33 (1999) - for a number of factors (e.g., weather conditions, crashes, mechanical problems, injuries, or simply by choice). Cars that qualified on the second day lined up by speed behind the pole day qualifiers, followed by the third day qualifiers, and finally, the fourth day qualifiers, until the field filled to 33.

Once the field was filled to 33 cars, bumping would begin. The slowest car in the field, regardless of the day it was qualified, was "on the bubble." If a driver went out and qualified faster, the bubble car would be bumped, and the new qualifier would be added to the field. This procedure would be repeated until the track closed a 6 p.m. on the final day of qualifying. Bumped cars, however, could not be re-qualified. Drivers would have to secure a back-up car (assuming it had attempts left on it) in order to bump his way back into the field.

11/11/11 (2005–2009)[edit]

Starting 2005, although due to rain it was not observed fully until 2007, the qualifying procedure was altered. The 33-car field would be split into three parts.

  • On the first day of qualifying (pole day)- positions 1–11 would be filled; bumping amongst those 11 cars would occur
  • On the second day of qualifying- positions 12–22 would be filled; bumping amongst those 11 cars would occur
  • On the third day of qualifying- positions 23–33 would be filled; bumping amongst those 11 cars would occur
  • On the fourth day of qualifying (bump day)- bumping begins immediately as the slowest car overall is "on the bubble," in danger of being bumped out by the next qualifier; all cars behind those bumped out are immediately slotted up one position regardless of their day of qualification, but no fourth-day qualifier is slotted ahead of first-, second- or third-day qualifiers still remaining in the field.

This procedure is commonly referred to as "11/11/11" since eleven cars would qualify on each of the first three days. Speedway management had toyed with the idea going back as far as 1987, and seriously considered it around 1990. It was offered as an idea to generate excitement into the normally sparse second and third qualifying days. It was not adopted until 2005, and after mixed results, was scrapped after 2009.

24/9 with Fast Nine Shootout (2010–2013)[edit]

A new format was introduced, adding an element similar to "knockout qualifying" systems used in World Superbike, Formula One, as well as IndyCar road course races. Cash prizes for the front row were increased, and championship points were now awarded for Indianapolis 500 qualifying results for all positions.[3][4]

  • Pole Day (Saturday) opens at 11:00 am. All cars are permitted to make up to three attempts, time permitting, until the session closes at 4:00 pm. A total of 24 positions are available to fill, and bumping begins as soon as the field fills to 24 cars.
  • At 4:00 pm, positions 10-24 are locked in for the day. Positions 1-9 advance to the Fast Nine Shootout.
  • At 4:30 pm, the Fast Nine Shootout begins, and runs until 6:00 pm. Each of the nine cars has their afternoon times erased, and now re-qualifies to determine the pole position as well as positions 2-9. Each car is allowed up to three attempts during the shootout, time permitting.
  • On Bump Day (Sunday), the remaining positions 25-33 were open for any remaining entries. Bumping begins as soon as the field fills to 33 cars. The slowest car in the field, regardless of the day the car qualified, is on the bubble. Fast Nine Competitors from Saturday, however, were protected, and could not be bumped.

On two occasions, (2011 and 2013), rain delayed the start of the shootout session. In each of those cases, the nine participants were allowed only one attempt during the shootout session.

Two-day format (2014)[edit]

A new qualifying format was introduced for 2014. Qualifying will be held over two days (Saturday-Sunday), with the pole position winner not determined until the second day. The qualifying procedure will be as follows:

  • On the first day of time trials (Saturday), all cars entered will make an attempt to qualify. Qualifying will be scheduled from 11:00 am to 5:50 pm. The fastest 33 cars will be locked into the starting field. Starting positions, however, will not be assigned. The top nine cars from Saturday will qualify for Fast Nine Shootout.
  • On the second day of time trials (Sunday), the cars that posted times from 10th-33rd will each make a qualifying attempt, beginning at 10:15 am. Saturday times will be erased, and the Sunday times will determine the starting lineup.
  • At 2 pm, the top nine cars from Saturday will participate in the Fast Nine Shootout to determined the pole position as well as starting positions 2-9.

Indianapolis 500 pole-sitters[edit]

Sixty-five drivers have qualified for the pole position, one less than the number of race winners.

Year
Country
Driver
Speed
(mph)
Speed
(km/h)
Finish
Order
Notes
1911 United States Lewis Strang No full lap 29 The grid was arranged by the order that entries were received via U.S. mail.
1912 Norway Gil Anderson 80.93 130.24 16 Single lap qualifying; David L. Bruce-Brown (88.45 mph – New track record) was the fastest qualifier. The grid was arranged by the order that entries were received via U.S. mail.
1913 United States Caleb Bragg 87.34 140.56 15 Single-lap; Jack Tower (88.23 mph) was the fastest qualifier. The grid was arranged by a pre-race blind draw.
1914 France Jean Chassagne 88.31 142.12 29 Single-lap; Georges Boillot (99.86 mph – New track record) was the fastest qualifier. The grid was arranged by a pre-race blind draw.
1915 United States Howdy Wilcox 98.80 159.00 7 Single-lap
1916 United States Johnny Aitken 96.69 155.61 15 Single-lap
1919 France René Thomas 104.78 168.63 11 New track record; single-lap
1920 United States Ralph DePalma 99.15 159.57 5  
1921 United States Ralph DePalma 100.75 162.14 12  
1922 United States Jimmy Murphy 100.50 161.74 1  
1923 United States Tommy Milton 108.17 174.08 1 New track record
1924 United States Jimmy Murphy 108.037 173.869 3  
1925 United States Leon Duray 113.196 182.171 6 New track record
1926 United States Earl Cooper 111.735 179.820 16  
1927 United States Frank Lockhart 120.100 193.282 18 New track record
1928 United States Leon Duray 122.391 196.969 19 New track record
1929 United States Cliff Woodbury 120.599 194.085 33  
1930 United States Billy Arnold 113.268 182.287 1  
1931 United States Russ Snowberger 112.796 181.528 5 Billy Arnold initially sat on the pole, but was disqualified for having his brakes disconnected. Later on, Arnold qualified at 116.080 mph and was the fastest qualifier (started 18th).
1932 United States Lou Moore 117.363 188.877 25 Ten-lap average
1933 United States Bill Cummings 118.530 190.756 25 Ten-lap average
1934 United States Kelly Petillo 119.329 192.041 11 Ten-lap average
1935 United States Rex Mays 120.736 194.306 17 Ten-lap average; Billy Arnold (121.687 mph) qualified for the pole, but was disqualified for using 5/8 pint too much fuel. Mays was elevated to the pole.
1936 United States Rex Mays 119.644 192.548 15 Ten-lap average
1937 United States Bill Cummings 123.343 198.501 6 New track record; ten-lap average; Jimmy Snyder (125.287 mph – New track record) was the fastest qualifier, and started 19th
1938 United States Floyd Roberts 125.681 202.264 1 New track record; ten-lap average; Ronney Householder (125.769 mph – New track record) was the fastest qualifier, and started 10th
1939 United States Jimmy Snyder 130.138 209.437 2 New track record
1940 United States Rex Mays 127.850 205.755 2  
1941 United States Mauri Rose 128.691 207.108 26  
1946 United States Cliff Bergere 126.471 203.535 16 Ralph Hepburn (133.944 mph – New track record) was the fastest qualifier, and started 19th.
1947 United States Ted Horn 126.564 203.685 3 Bill Holland (128.755 mph) was the fastest qualifier, and started 8th
1948 United States Rex Mays 130.577 210.143 19 Duke Nalon (131.603 mph) was the fastest qualifier, and started 11th
1949 United States Duke Nalon 132.939 213.945 29  
1950 United States Walt Faulkner 134.343 216.204 7 New track record
1951 United States Duke Nalon 136.498 219.672 10 New track record; on the second weekend of time trials, Walt Faulkner (136.872 mph) broke Nalon's one-week-old track record, and became the fastest qualfier. He started 14th.
1952 United States Fred Agabashian 138.010 222.106 27 New track record; on the second weekend of time trials, Chet Miller (139.034 mph) broke Agabashian's one-week-old track record, and became the fastest qualfier. He started 27th.
1953 United States Bill Vukovich 138.392 222.720 1 Final 3/4 of final lap completed amid downpour
1954 United States Jack McGrath 141.033 226.791 3 New track record
1955 United States Jerry Hoyt 140.045 225.381 31 Jack McGrath (142.580 mph) was the fastest qualifier, and started 3rd. Most cars stayed off the track on pole day due to gusting winds, and threatening rain. Near the end of the day, two cars completed attempts and took the top two spots. Hoyt's pole-winning speed was only the 8th-fastest overall in the field, the record slowest ranked pole speed.
1956 United States Pat Flaherty 145.596 234.314 1 New track record
1957 United States Pat O'Connor 143.948 231.662 8 Paul Russo (144.817 mph) was the fastest qualifier, and started 10th
1958 United States Dick Rathmann 145.974 234.922 27 New track record
1959 United States Johnny Thomson 145.908 234.816 3  
1960 United States Eddie Sachs 146.592 235.917 21 New track record; On the second weekend of time trials, Jim Hurtubise (149.601 mph) broke Sachs' one-week-old track record, and became the fastest overall qualifier. He would start 23rd.
1961 United States Eddie Sachs 147.481 237.348 2  
1962 United States Parnelli Jones 150.370 241.997 7 New track record
1963 United States Parnelli Jones 151.153 243.257 1 New track record
1964 United Kingdom Jim Clark 158.828 255.609 24 New track record
1965 United States A.J. Foyt 161.233 259.479 15 New track record
1966 United States Mario Andretti 165.899 266.989 18 New track record
1967 United States Mario Andretti 168.982 271.950 30 New track record
1968 United States Joe Leonard 171.559 276.097 12 New track record
1969 United States A.J. Foyt 170.568 274.503 8  
1970 United States Al Unser 170.221 273.944 1  
1971 United States Peter Revson 178.696 287.583 2 New track record
1972 United States Bobby Unser 195.940 315.335 30 New track record. Bolt-on wings were allowed for the first time, resulting in the largest one-year track record increase
1973 United States Johnny Rutherford 198.413 319.315 9 New track record; Rutherford's third lap of 199.071 mph was a single-lap track record, and just 0.21 seconds shy of the elusive 200 mph barrier.
1974 United States A.J. Foyt 191.632 308.402 15 Pop-off valves were fitted to the turbochargers, limiting boost to 80 inHG, effectively slowing speeds
1975 United States A.J. Foyt 193.976 312.174 3  
1976 United States Johnny Rutherford 188.957 304.097 1 Mario Andretti (189.404 mph) who qualified on the second weekend of time trials, was the fastest overall qualifier, and started 19th.
1977 United States Tom Sneva 198.884 320.073 2 New track record; entire track resurfaced in asphalt prior to the race; Sneva's first two laps of 200.401 and 200.535 marked the first-ever official laps over 200 mph (320 km/h) at Indianapolis.
1978 United States Tom Sneva 202.156 325.339 2 New track record
1979 United States Rick Mears 193.736 311.788 1 Pop-off valves limiting boost to 50 inHG
1980 United States Johnny Rutherford 192.256 309.406 1 Pop-off valves limiting boost to 48 inHG
1981 United States Bobby Unser 200.546 322.748 1 Rain stretched the pole qualifying round over three days. After the initial qualifying line was passed through, Unser was awarded the pole. Moments later, Tom Sneva (200.691 mph) became the overall fastest qualifier, but since he was officially a "third day" qualifier, started 20th.
1982 United States Rick Mears 207.004 333.141 2 New track record
1983 Italy Teo Fabi 207.395 333.770 26 New track record; Pop-off valves limiting boost to 47 inHG. The first weekend of time trials was rained out, and pole qualifying was held on the third day of time trials.
1984 United States Tom Sneva 210.029 338.009 16 New track record
1985 United States Pancho Carter 212.583 342.119 33 New track record
1986 United States Rick Mears 216.828 348.951 3 New track record
1987 United States Mario Andretti 215.390 346.637 9 Radial tires introduced. Many teams stayed off the track due to windy conditions and handling problems, and only 11 cars qualified on pole day.
1988 United States Rick Mears 219.198 352.765 1 New track record; Pop-off valves limiting boost to 45 inHG
1989 United States Rick Mears 223.885 360.308 23 New track record; entire track resurfaced in asphalt prior to the race. Pole day (Sat.) was rained out, and pole qualifying was held on Sunday, the second day of time trials.
1990 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 225.301 362.587 3 New track record. Pole day was rained out on Saturday, and was pushed to Sunday. The qualifying line was not completed before the end of the day, and the conclusion of pole qualifying was extended to the third day of qualifying (Sat.)
1991 United States Rick Mears 224.113 360.675 1 Gary Bettenhausen (224.468 mph) who qualified on the second day, was the overall fastest qualifier, and started 13th
1992 Colombia Roberto Guerrero 232.482 374.144 33 New track record
1993 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 223.967 360.440 2  
1994 United States Al Unser, Jr. 228.011 366.948 1  
1995 United States Scott Brayton 231.604 372.731 17  
1996 United States Tony Stewart* 233.100 375.138 24 New track record; entire track resurfaced in asphalt prior to the race; Arie Luyendyk (236.986 mph) who was a second day qualifier, was the fastest qualifier, and started 20th. He set the current an all-time 1-lap track record (237.498 mph) and 4-lap track record.
1997 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 218.263 351.260 1 Turbochargers banned, rules changed to 4.0L normally aspirated engines
1998 United States Billy Boat 223.503 359.693 23  
1999 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 225.179 362.390 22  
2000 United States Greg Ray 223.471 359.642 33 rules changed to 3.5L normally aspirated engines
2001 United States Scott Sharp 226.037 363.771 33  
2002 Brazil Bruno Junqueira 231.342 372.309 31  
2003 Brazil Hélio Castroneves 231.725 372.925 2  
2004 United States Buddy Rice 222.024 357.313 1 rules changed to 3.0L normally aspirated engines
2005 Brazil Tony Kanaan 227.566 366.232 8 Kenny Bräck (227.598 mph) was the overall fastest qualifier, and started 23rd; Entire track resurfaced in asphalt prior to the race
2006 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 228.985 368.516 1  
2007 Brazil Hélio Castroneves 225.817 363.417 3 rules changed to ethanol-fueled 3.5L normally aspirated engines
2008 New Zealand Scott Dixon 226.366 364.301 1  
2009 Brazil Hélio Castroneves 224.864 361.880 1  
2010 Brazil Hélio Castroneves 227.970 367.809 9 New two-stage qualifying session used.
2011 Canada Alex Tagliani 227.472 366.081 28 One attempt permitted in Q2 because of rain.
2012 Australia Ryan Briscoe 226.484 364.491 5 Rules changed to 2200cc turbocharged 6-cylinder engines with ECU-limited boost of 140 kPA for qualifying only;
2013 United States Ed Carpenter 228.762 368.156 10 ECU-limited boost of 140 kPA for qualifying only; Rain delayed qualifying where Q1 ended at 6 PM; Q2 started at 6:30 and one attempt permitted.
2014 United States Ed Carpenter 231.067 371.866 Q1 held on first day; Q2 held on second day of qualifying.

Notes

  • 1935: Billy Arnold qualified at 121.687 mph (10-lap qualifying runs) to win the pole position. In post-inspection, it was determined he used too much fuel. Rules allowed drivers to use 3 gallons of fuel maximum for the run, with a margin of error of 1 pint. It was measured that he used ⅝ pint over, and he was disqualified. Rex Mays, the second-fastest qualifier, was elevated to the pole position.
  • 1996: At the conclusion of pole day qualifying, Scott Brayton qualified for the pole-position, Arie Luyendyk qualified second, and Tony Stewart qualified third. Officially it was Brayton's second consecutive Indy pole (1995–1996). One hour and forty-five minutes after qualifying was over, Luyendyk was disqualified for his car being 7 pounds underweight. Stewart was elevated to second position. The following day, Luyendyk qualified with the fastest speed overall, but as a second day qualifier, was required to line up behind the first day qualifiers. Five days later, Brayton was killed in a practice session accident while driving a back-up car. His primary car was taken over by Danny Ongais, but rules required a substitute driver to move to the rear of the field. Thus, Stewart was elevated to the pole position for race day.
Italy Italian-born

Multiple pole positions[edit]

Eighteen drivers have qualified for the pole position more than once, accounting for 49 pole positions out of 98 races, 51.02%.

Poles Driver Years Notes
6 United States Rick Mears 1979 1982 1986 1988 1989 1991 First five- and six-time pole-position qualifier; second-fastest qualifier, 1991
4 United States Rex Mays 1935 1936 1940 1948   First three- and four-time pole-position qualifier; second-fastest qualifier, 1948
United States A.J. Foyt 1965 1969 1974 1975  
Brazil Hélio Castroneves 2003 2007 2009 2010  
3 United StatesMario Andretti 1966 1967 1987   Fastest qualifier, 1976
United States Johnny Rutherford 1973 1976 1980 Second-fastest qualifier, 1976
United States Tom Sneva 1977 1978 1984 Fastest qualifier, 1981
Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 1993 1997 1999 Fastest qualifier, 1996
2 United StatesRalph DePalma 1920 1921   First two-time pole position qualifier; first consecutive pole position qualifier
United States Jimmy Murphy 1922 1924  
United States Leon Duray 1925 1928  
United States Bill Cummings 1933 1937 Second-fastest qualifier, 1937
United States Duke Nalon 1949 1951 Second-fastest qualifier, 1951
United States Eddie Sachs 1960 1961 Second-fastest qualifier, 1960
United States Parnelli Jones 1962 1963  
United States Bobby Unser 1972 1981 Second-fastest qualifier, 1981
United States Scott Brayton 1995 1996* Qualified for pole position, and second-fastest qualifier, 1996
United States Ed Carpenter 2013 2014  

Notes

* Scott Brayton qualified for the pole position in 1996, but was killed in a practice session accident with a back-up car six days later. Tony Stewart, the second-place qualifier, subsequently moved onto the pole position, while Brayton's car, thereafter assigned to Danny Ongais to drive, was, by rule in driver-replacement situations, moved to the last starting position.
Italy Italian-born

Consecutive pole position winners[edit]

Qualification for the pole-position in consecutive races has been accomplished eleven times; start from the pole position will have occurred ten times (pending 2014 race). No driver has qualified for three consecutive pole positions.

Poles Driver Years Notes
2 United StatesRalph DePalma 19201921  
United States Rex Mays 19351936  
United States Eddie Sachs 19601961 Second-fastest qualifier, 1960
United States Parnelli Jones 19621963  
United StatesMario Andretti 19661967  
United States A.J. Foyt 19741975  
United States Tom Sneva 19771978 Qualified second in 1979 (1st-1st-2nd in three year span)
United States Rick Mears 19881989 Qualified second in 1990 (1st-1st-2nd in three year span)
United States Scott Brayton 19951996* Qualified for the pole position, 1996, but was killed in a practice session accident nine days before the race in a backup car; Tony Stewart, the second qualifier, moved onto the pole position Brayton's stead; Danny Ongais started the pole-winning car from the final starting position 
Brazil Hélio Castroneves 20092010  
United States Ed Carpenter 20132014  

Indianapolis 500 winners who started from the pole position[edit]

Eighteen drivers have won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race from the pole position in twenty-one out of ninety-three races, 22.58%. Two consecutive wins from the pole position has occurred twice, in years 1922–1923 and 2008–2009, and three consecutive wins once, in years 1979–1981.

Wins Driver Years Notes
3 United States Rick Mears 1979 1988 1991 First three-time winner from the pole position; accounts for three of Mears' four career wins.
2 United States Johnny Rutherford 1976 1980   First multiple-winner from the pole position. Accounts for two of Rutherford's three career victories.
1 United States Jimmy Murphy 1922   First winner from the pole position
United States Tommy Milton 1923 First year with consecutive wins from the pole position; accounts for one of Milton's two career victories.
United States Billy Arnold 1930 Led final 198 laps of race, most ever by pole-sitter or race winner
United States Floyd Roberts 1938  
United States Mauri Rose* 1941* * Started from pole position in separate entry than that co-driven to victory, only such occurrence to date
United States Bill Vukovich 1953 Accounts for one of Vukovich's two career victories
United States Pat Flaherty 1956  
United States Parnelli Jones 1963  
United States Al Unser 1970 Accounts for one of Unser's four career victories
United States Bobby Unser 1981 First year with three consecutive wins from the pole position; accounts for one of Unser's three career victories
United States Al Unser, Jr. 1994 Accounts for one of Unser's two career victories
Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 1997 Accounts for one of Luyendyk's two career victories
United States Buddy Rice 2004  
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 2006  
New Zealand Scott Dixon 2008  
Brazil Hélio Castroneves 2009 Accounts for one of Castroneves' three career victories

Time trials records[edit]

Speed records[edit]

Type Distance Date Driver Time Average speed
Laps Miles
Qualifying 1 2.5 miles (4.0 km) May 12, 1996 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 37.895 237.498 mph (382.216 km/h)
Qualifying 4 10 miles (16 km) May 12, 1996 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk 2:31.908 236.986 mph (381.392 km/h)

Note: Arie Luyendyk's record-setting time trials run was conducted on the second day of time trials in 1996. Therefore, due to the rules at the time, he was ineligible for the pole position. He lined up 20th on the starting grid.

General records[edit]

  • Most Time Starting on Front Row
    • 11 - Rick Mears (1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991)
  • Most Consecutive Time Starting on Front Row
    • 6 - Rick Mears (1986-1991: 1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st)
  • Most Pole Positions, Owner/Team
    • 17 - Roger Penske (1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012)
    • 4 - Al Dean/Dean Van Lines Racing (1960, 1961, 1966, 1967)
    • 3 - J. C. Agajanian (1950, 1962, 1963)
    • 3 - McLaren (1971, 1973, 1976)
    • 3 - A.J. Foyt Enterprises/Gilmore Racing (1974, 1975, 1998)
    • 3 - Team Menard (1995, 1996, 2000)
    • 3 - Chip Ganassi Racing (1993, 2002, 2008)
    • 2 - many times
  • Most Cars Qualified on Front Row, All-Time, Owner
    • 40 - Roger Penske (participation ranges 1969-1995, 2001-2013)
  • Most consistent qualifying laps
    • 0.0049 seconds, Scott Dixon, 2008 (time was later withdrawn)
      • Lap 1: 39.9677
      • Lap 2: 39.9700
      • Lap 3: 39.9705
      • Lap 4: 39.9656

Notes[edit]

Works cited[edit]

  • Indianapolis 500 Chronicle, copyright 1999, Rick Pope
  • 2006 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Official Program

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley - 1070-AM WIBC, May 2, 2005
  2. ^ The Talk of Gasoline Alley. May 17, 2011. WFNI.
  3. ^ Cavin, Curt (2010-04-10). "Winning pole just got more intense". IndyStar.com. Retrieved 2010-04-11. [dead link]
  4. ^ Kelly, Paul (2010-04-14). "'Fast Nine' To Make Thrilling Late-Day Run For Pole Saturday, May 22". Indy500.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. [dead link]