Facebook Twitter

BRAZILIAN EARNS POLE FOR INDY 500

SHARE BRAZILIAN EARNS POLE FOR INDY 500

Emerson Fittipaldi won the biggest pole position of his career Saturday without his car ever leaving the garage.

Arie Luyendyk led 20 qualifiers for next Sunday's race, but no one could match the record 225.301 mph qualifying average Emerson Fittipaldi drove last Sunday. That gave the two-time Formula One champion from Brazil his first Indy pole."I'm sure it's the most important pole in my career," Fittipaldi said. "It's a special achievement, the greatest pole in the world."

Al Unser Jr. ran a disappointing 220.920 mph qualifying run after reaching 228.502 mph in practice.

"The car pushed quite a bit," Unser said. "It wasn't anything like what I thought it would be. I had to lift in all four corners. I guess the mistake was we left it alone. We had to set it up for one run and we just missed a little."

Fittipaldi knew the pole was his once Unser failed.

"I was very emotional," he said. "A lot of tension was relieved on the team and myself. I was much more nervous watching Al Jr. qualify than I was actually driving the car. I expected him to qualify faster. In the back of my mind, I thought of the 25 years it took me to get this pole."

Windy and warm conditions made qualifying tougher Saturday than it was last Sunday, when 15 cars made the field in a rain-shortened session.

Rick Mears retained the No. 2 starting spot in the middle of Row One, giving him a record 10 Indy front-row starts. Luyendyk earned the outside spot on the front row with his qualifying run of 223.304 mph Saturday.

Chevrolet engines powered the entire front three rows.

Danny Sullivan, also considered a pole challenger, qualified at 220.310 mph and will start on Row Three. He could tell after pre-qualifying practice that the pole was out of reach.

"We pretty much knew in practice. You can't perform magic in the garage and what we needed was 5 or 6 mph," Sullivan said. "We made some changes in qualifying which caused me to have to push, and the wind coming out of turn four was like having the hand brake on."

Four-time winner A.J. Foyt, 55, qualified for his 33rd straight Indy race and will be the oldest Indy starter ever. Unser's father, four-time winner Al Unser Sr., qualified for his 25th Indy race in Alfa Romeo's first Indy appearance in 40 years.

Three incidents marred the day but no drivers were injured. Steve Chassey crashed his 1987 Lola-Buick in practice and had no chance to qualify. Rich Vogler hit the turn two wall during a qualifying run. Crawford spun leaving the second turn but skidded to a stop without hitting anything.