Carpenter outguns the big boys for pole

Published: Sunday, May. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 19, 2013 - 8:04 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Ed Carpenter turned Pole Day into a family celebration.

The stepson of IndyCar founder Tony George won the biggest pre-race event in the series – the Indianapolis 500 pole.

Carpenter produced a stunning finish to a day that was rife with suspense but lacked surprise. His four-lap average of 228.762 mph was quick enough to break up what appeared to be a Team Penske-Andretti Autosport lock on the front three rows in the nine-car shootout.

Somehow, Carpenter, who owns his team, beat the big-name guys.

"To be a single-car team in this Chevy shootout, I am going to call it fighting with the Penske and Andretti guys," said Carpenter, whose pit crewmen carried him on their shoulders after an agonizing wait to see if his time would hold.

The soft-spoken Carpenter grew up around the world-famous 2.5-mile Brickyard, dreaming of the moment he could stand in Victory Lane. Perhaps that will happen May 26.

For now, Carpenter will savor the highest-profile achievement of his career during a month in which he has strengthened area ties. His sponsor, golfer Fuzzy Zoeller's Fuzzy's Vodka, is based in Indiana, and this week Carpenter added decals to his car from his alma mater, Butler University – the little school whose basketball team made two NCAA championship-game appearances in a row.

Carpenter also took out a little time for family and friends, who believe this could be his big year at Indy.

After producing the fastest lap in the opening practice session May 11, Carpenter gave away his tickets to watch the Eastern Conference semifinals between the hometown Pacers and New York Knicks so he could spend time with his wife before another working Mother's Day.

And during Friday night's qualifying draw, Carpenter had one of his young children pull out the number.

Carpenter was followed by three of Michael Andretti's five drivers. Rookie Carlos Munoz of Colombia, Marco Andretti and Venezuelan E.J. Viso took the next three spots. Munoz's average of 228.342 was just a tick better than Marco Andretti's 228.261.

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

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