Hinchcliffe Takes Pole as Honda Claims 1st Pole in 31 Races

Photo Credit: motorsport.com

A driver of a Honda-powered race car will start on pole for an Indycar race for the 1st time in 31 races, dating back to the 2014 Race 1 of the Grand Prix of Houston, when Simon Pagenaud, then driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, led the field to the green flag in a Honda-powered race car.

James Hinchcliffe, who was the final car to make a qualification attempt for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on pole day, qualified for the historic race with a 4-lap speed average of 230.760 miles per hour in his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda-powered car. That average speed was 6 hundredths of a mile per hour quicker than Josef Newgarden, who had qualified 5 attempts earlier than Hinchcliffe, with a 4-lap speed average of 230.700 miles per hour driving an Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet-powered race car. The outstanding 4-lap average speed for Hinchcliffe was enough to give him his 1st career Verizon Indycar Series pole position start to a race, and it was enough to put a Honda-powered car on the pole for the 1st time in the past 31 races.

The fact that the driver was James Hinchcliffe to break the drought of 30 consecutive races without a pole position start for any driver of a Honda-powered car is its own story. Just a few days over 1 year ago, Hinchcliffe was in a terrifying crash practicing for last year’s Indianapolis 500 when a piece of suspension in his crash broke in turn 3, sending him into the turn 3 wall. He lost lots of blood, as the piece of suspension went through his body, and at first was not expected to survive the wreck after he sustained a G-load of 126 G’s, the highest G-load in an Indycar crash on record. This article walks through the crash and Hinchcliffe’s miraculous recovery, step by step: https://sportspress.co/2016/04/06/james-hinchcliffe-an-amazing-recovery/. You can see the awful wreck here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YtL96zeHXE&nohtml5=False.

Not only did Honda claim their 1st pole in 31 races, but they also took 4 of the top 5 starting spots on this year’s Indianapolis 500 grid as well as 8 of the top 12 and 9 of the top 14. You can see the full starting grid here: https://sportspress.co/2016/05/22/100th-running-of-the-indianapolis-500-starting-grid/.

The drivers of the Honda-powered cars have generally showed speed superior to the speed shown by many of the drivers of the Chevrolet-powered cars all week in practice leading up to qualifications in both race trim and qualifying trim. It does not look like we will see a race next Sunday for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 that is absolutely dominated by the drivers of the Chevrolet-powered cars like we did a year ago at the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, when Chevrolet swept the top 4 finishing positions and 9 of the top 11 finishing spots.

The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast on ABC starting at 11:00 AM ET next Sunday, May 29th.

-Asher Fair

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