Former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso narrowly failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday as France's Simon Pagenaud took pole position for the May 26 race.
"It's just unbelievable", Pagenaud, who last week won the IndyCar Grand Prix on the track's road course, told NBC Sports.
Hinchcliffe, who was bumped out of the race last year and that in part led to this year's two-day format, recovered from a crash in Saturday qualifying to also make it into the show.
He eventually returned to the track three hours later to try and complete the four laps permitted but had to abandon the run on the third lap. "Honestly, this is what makes Indy so special: It's tough to get into this race".
Pagenaud edged out Ed Carpenter, who qualified the No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet at 229.889 miles per hour and narrowly missed winning the Indy 500 pole for a fourth time. In a backup vehicle cobbled together by his Juncos Racing crew after Kaiser crashed the primary No. 32 Chevrolet in Friday practice, Kaiser ran four laps at 227.372 miles per hour to take the last spot away from Alonso.
Power qualified in sixth position, and will start from the outside of the second row, alongside Ed Jones and Colton Herta.
"I was hoping one of the three of us was going to get the pole, but finishing 2-3-4 is the next best thing", team owner/driver Carpenter said. Alonso was bumped from the field by 23-year-old Kyle Kaiser in a dramatic last-gasp bid by tiny Juncos Racing. Only Carlin's Charlie Kimball, who posted a run good enough to earn 20th overall, will represent the Florida-based squad next Sunday at the big race as teammates Max Chilton (photo above), Pato O'Ward, and, by arrangement, Fernando Alonso watch from afar.
"We tried our best and we've been courageous at times, but there were people doing better job than us". But the entire process has been a disaster from opening day because of electrical issues, an Alonso accident, a lengthy delay in rebuilding him a vehicle, a tire puncture on his first qualifying attempt and, finally, a auto too hard to handle for Alonso to qualify in the top 30 on Saturday.
For the second straight year, qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 has not gone well for IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe.
Saturday's qualifying session determines the top-30 cars (of 36 entries) and sets the field for positions 10 through 30.
"I don't think I can wrap my mind around what we just did", Kaiser told NBC Sports after bumping Alonso from the field. "Once they said "You made it", I heard the shouting on the radio, and I started bursting out into tears". "I couldn't have done any more, and I don't think the team could have done any more".