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