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One-man gang Ed Carpenter nails down Indy 500 pole

Unheralded Ed Carpenter gets lift from his crew after claiming pole for Indy 500 with an average speed 228.762 mph.

Unheralded Ed Carpenter gets a lift from his crew after claiming the pole for the Indy 500 with an average speed of 228.762 mph. | AJ Mast~AP

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Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Qualifying continues Sunday; race is May 26

With rank, car number in parentheses, driver, time and speed in parentheses.

1. (20) Ed Carpenter, 2:37.3689 (228.762)

2. (26) Carlos Munoz, 2:37.6581 (228.342)

3. (25) Marco Andretti, 2:37.7139 (228.261)

4. (5) EJ Viso, 2:37.7907 (228.150)

5. (2) AJ Allmendinger, 2:37.8264 (228.099)

6. (12) Will Power, 2:37.8342 (228.087)

7. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2:37.9614 (227.904)

8. (3) Helio Castroneves, 2:38.0596 (227.762)

9. (27) James Hinchcliffe, 2:38.5411 (227.070)

10. (4) JR Hildebrand, 2:38.2830 (227.441)

11. (98) Alex Tagliani, 2:38.3209 (227.386)

12. (11) Tony Kanaan, 2:38.6260 (226.949)

13. (22) Oriol Servia, 2:38.7206 (226.814)

14. (19) Justin Wilson, 2:39.0318 (226.370)

15. (7) S. Bourdais, 2:39.1543 (226.196)

16. (9) Scott Dixon, 2:39.1808 (226.158)

17. (10) Dario Franchitti, 2:39.2434 (226.069)

18. (14) Takuma Sato, 2:39.3681 (225.892)

19. (83) Charlie Kimball, 2:39.3768 (225.880)

20. (16) James Jakes, 2:39.4268 (225.809)

21. (77) Simon Pagenaud, 2:39.5219 (225.674)

22. (60) Townsend Bell, 2:39.5438 (225.643)

23. (8) Ryan Briscoe, 2:39.8117 (225.265)

24. (78) S. De Silvestro, 2:39.8398 (225.226)

Updated: June 20, 2013 4:56PM

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis 500 is a Memorial Day tradition. But Ed Carpenter made a declaration of independents on Saturday when he captured the pole for this year’s race.

By holding off the Andretti and Penske juggernauts in a nine-car shootout, Carpenter, who operates his own one-car team, struck a blow for the little guy.

“This is awesome,’’ Carpenter said. “It’s bigger than our wins. It’s huge for the team. It’s definitely a landmark day.

“But I want to make sure we keep our focus. I hope this is part one of a really magical month. We’re here for race day.’’

Carpenter was fifth during the first round of qualifying. But in the shootout, where the top nine qualifiers start from scratch, the 32-year-old Butler grad shot to the top by covering his four-lap, 10-mile qualifying run at an average speed of 228.762 mph.

Rookie Carlos Munoz, 21, who was bidding to become the youngest Indy polesitter, qualified second. Munoz’s Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti filled out the front row. All five Andretti drivers landed in the top nine.

“Five of the top nine is an incredible achievement,’’ Marco said. “We were a little short on the pole, but we came here to win the race and I truly believe this is going to be one of my best shots.’’

Team Penske’s three drivers also were in the top nine. The biggest losers in the shootout were Penske drivers Will Power, who slipped from the pole to sixth, and four-time polesitter Helio Castroneves, who dropped from fourth to eighth.’’

They fell because they were too aggressive about removing downforce for the shootout.

“I was going to go with more downforce level than I did this morning,’’ Power said. “But Castroneves decided to go all the way. It’s his fault. Why did you do that? But it was good fun, and it’s good to start on the second row.’’

Castroneves admitted he gambled and lost.

“This is the Indianapolis 500. We took a chance,’’ the three-time Indy winner said. “Sometimes it pays off. Today, it didn’t. It was very hard to keep four laps together.’’

After taking eight of the top nine slots last year, Chevrolet engines powered the top nine qualifiers. But Honda bounced back in the 2012 race, with Target/Ganassi drivers Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon finishing first and second.

Rain delayed the start of qualifying by nearly 21/2 hours. But the weather was a non-factor after that, allowing local favorite Carpenter to surprise the big boys.

“We knew he was a factor, but those laps were really stout,’’ Marco Andretti said. “We didn’t see that kind of finish out of him, but he went for a trim and he balanced the car, so it rewarded him.’’

While a sparse crowd watched the drama of Power’s final run unfold, Carpenter relaxed, feeling Power would stumble the way Castroneves had.

“I figured he would fall off,’’ Carpenter said. “We chose to stay where we were. The Penske cars were more aggressive and took more downforce off. That was a mistake. That’s what we were hoping for.’’

That opened the door for an unlikely pole-winner.

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