Fernando Alonso fifth in Indy 500 qualifying as Scott Dixon takes pole

Fernando Alonso will start from fifth at next weekend's Indy 500 race. Here are Pole Day's talking point. It's the first time he's competed on an oval. Also with times from first-day qualifying erased, drivers will each make a four-lap attempt in the reverse order of where they finished today to decide the pole victor. Capps had a 3.924-second pass at 321.42 miles per hour in a Dodge Charger R/T in the final to become the first driver to win four straight in one season since Robert Hight in 2012. It would have been good enough to become the third-best qualifying speed since Luyendyk in 1996, but it wasn't enough to top Dixon.

"I was a little shocked myself when I saw that first lap speed", Dixon said when interviewed by Dr.

"When we won the race in 2008, we did it from the pole position". He's that good, folks. However, teammate and reigning 500 champion Alexander Rossi, another F1 product, though nowhere near as seasoned as Alonso, bumped Alonso down a notch, and the Spaniard finished the Fast Nine Shootout with the fifth-best time (231.300 mph).

This year, he's been there or thereabouts all month, and going back-to-back certainly isn't out of the question.

Not that grid position is a vital route to Indy 500 victory: last year's victor, Alexander Rossi (another former F1 driver), won the race after qualifying 11.

That's how last-man Carpenter felt after failing to overtake Dixon. Ed has unfinished business at IMS and will lead the Chevrolet charge on Sunday. "This season has started so great".

The Australian racer will substitute for the injured Sebastien Bourdais at Dale Coyne Racing, and will eventually take to the track later in the week once Bourdais' road course spare auto has been reconfigured for oval competition.

But after qualifying, the driver/owner from Indianapolis wasn't complaining about barely missing out on his third 500 pole. It was familiarity with the Coyne organisation that gave the drive to Davison ahead of other possibilities like fellow Australian Matt Brabham or Englishman Stefan Wilson.

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The 500's schedule calls for Alonso and Rossi to do a media tour through NY on Tuesday, visit Indianapolis-area schools on Wednesday, participate in media day activities at IMS on Thursday, go through Carb Day on Friday, a parade and public drivers meeting on Saturday, and then the race on Sunday. It's expected that Davison will turn his first laps in practice on Monday. He'll start third after posting a 231.487.

Leading the second row of cars will be Rossi's teammate Takuma Sato, and next to him two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso in his qualifying debut.

After getting out of the vehicle, Alonso said a slight hiccup on the final corner of the final lap kept him from producing an even bigger number.

"I think the team did a fantastic job to put me in a position to be able to run 230 [mph laps] in the average of the four laps", Alonso said.

Alonso was consistently fast through the days of practice last week, whether running in qualifying or race trim. "But it means a lot more to say that you are an Indianapolis 500 victor". Roger Penske's drivers have won all five poles this season with Power taking three and Helio Castroneves taking two.

Castroneves is a three-time Indy 500 champion. "We did find some more speed, " he said. He leaps from second to first, passing Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, who was 23rd quickest in qualifying.

It's rather shocking to see these talented winners and proven Indianapolis performers so far down the timing sheet. It's so hard to talk about the race continuously before you've even done it. You know, that's what we're here to do. It wouldn't be the Indianapolis 500 without Roger Penske's cars contending.

"This is the biggest race in the world", he said.

  • Lawrence Cooper