Average Miles Per Hour: 230.088 mph
No, it is not one of the speeds clocked for Pro Stock at the NHRA Heartland Nationals. That's the average-speed (230.088 mph) for the first lap of qualifying on "Pole Day" for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. The front straight grandstands erupted in an uproar of cheering fans when Indianapolis's hometown boy, Ed Carpenter, posted the only 230 mph-plus lap time for the Month of May. Carpenter, who grew up at the Brickyard, was on his way to a four-lap average of 229.618 mph, which was good enough to claim pole position for next Sunday's historic event.
Equally as impressive, was the fact that Ed Carpenter Racing, which is housed at the 2.5-mile facility, placed all three cars in the Top 7 starting positions for the race. Danica Patrick, who has already announced her retirement from full-time IndyCar and NASCAR competition at the end of this race, posted the seventh fastest time one position behind teammate Spencer Pigot. Pigot is the series most successful driver to have worked his way through the "Road to Indy" racing series that included Formula Ford, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. It is Carpenter's third Indianapolis 500 pole in his career.
Not to be outdone, "The Captain" (Roger Penske) put four of his team cars in the Top 8. Penske Racing has the most Indianapolis 500 victories of any team in auto-racing history with 16 wins. In 1972, Penske driver Gary Bettenhausen led the most laps but lost an engine with 24 laps to go. His teammate Mark Donohue led the waning laps en route to Penske's first Indianapolis 500 victory. Team Penske's most recent wins came in 2016 with Frenchman Simon Pagenaud and in 2017 with IndyCar series champion Josef Newgarden both driving the Dallara DW12 chassis powered by a Chevrolet IndyCar V6t.
The Brickyard, as it is known due to the original pavement of bricks, is a 2.5 mile non-oval. In fact, every driver talks about the distinct four corners at Indy as well as the two long straights and two short-shoots, all of which are an ever-changing piece of pavement. As seen in a popular Google map, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is big. So big, it can hold the White House, Yankee Stadium, Churchill Downs, Rose Bowl Stadium, Liberty Island, Roman Colosseum, Taj Mahal and Vatican City with room to spare. The 102nd running of the Indy 500 will begin on May 27 at 12:19 p.m. ET.