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Ed Carpenter earns Indy 500 pole

Sunday - 5/19/2013, 4:04pm  ET

Ed Carpenter gets a kiss from his wife, Heather, after he won won the pole for the Indianapolis 500 auto race, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 18, 2013. Carpenter won the pole with a speed of 228.762 mph. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Ed Carpenter turned Pole Day into a family celebration.

The stepson of IndyCar founder Tony George became the first member of the Hulman family to win 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 for the pole.

Somehow, Carpenter, who owns his team, beat out 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 crew carried him off pit road on their shoulders after an agonizing wait to see if his time would hold up.

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 and during a month in which he has strengthened his 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 that made two straight NCAA championship game appearances.

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

After producing the fastest lap in the opening practice session last Saturday, Carpenter gave away his tickets to watch the Eastern Conference semifinals between the hometown Pacers and New York Knicks so he could spend some 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.

Then Carpenter went out and beat all those big-name guys to the punch, setting off a celebration that isn't likely to end any time soon.

"I felt like coming in that we had a chance to be on the pole," Carpenter said. "To sit on the pole for this race is really a dream come true, and I hope it is a start to what has already been a great month of May. The car has been great and I can't thank my team enough. The sponsors, a lot of great people helped us get here. This is just the first part of what we are here to do."

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," said Andretti, who congratulated Carpenter on pit road. "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."

Another Indy rookie, AJ Allmendinger, will start fifth, the highest qualifier for Roger Penske's team.

Will Power went into the shootout as the favorite after going 228.844 but wound up starting sixth, the outside of Row 2 after slowing to 227.246 mph on the final run of the day.

"We took everything off and went for it," Power said. "Even the last two corners, you're like, man, I don't know whether this thing is going to stick. But good fun, and it's good to be starting on the second row and we'll see what we can do."

It was yet another frustrating moment for Power, who thought he might eclipse 230 after his early afternoon run. That came just 48 hours after Power seemed resigned to not even be in pole contention.

But racing has not always been good to Power. Despite winning 21 poles and 14 races from 2010-12, Power finished second in the points to Dario Franchitti all three years.

Indy has followed the same trend line. In five previous starts on the oval, Power has only started on the front row once -- when he started second in 2010 when he was overshadowed by his pole-winning teammate, Helio Castroneves. Power has never finished better than fifth on race day even though he completed 799 of 800 laps in his first four starts. Last year, he went out in a crash after 78 laps.

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