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Most motor races take place over a weekend, but the Indianapolis 500 is not most races. "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" plays out over the course of weeks, with numerous practice sessions, extensive qualifying heats and finally the race itself. And with qualifying completed, Alex Tagliani has emerged on top.

Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Tagliani is the first Canadian to take pole position at the Indy 500 in its one hundred year history. Of course, he wouldn't be the only Canadian to win the race, following the notable victory of his countryman Jacques Villeneuve in 1995. But as surprising as Tagliani's pole position was, converting into a win will be another matter. Over the course of seven years in Champ Cars, Tagliani's won just a single race (at Road America in 2004) and has yet to notch up a win since moving over to the IndyCar Series in 2008.

The coveted pole position was expected to go one of Ganassi drivers (Scott Dixon, a previous Indy 500 winner, or his teammate Dario Franchitti, a two-time Indy 500 winner) or one of the Penske boys (three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves or current series frontrunner Will Power). Newman/Haas driver Oriol Servia put up a good fight too, but when the times were finalized at the end of the "fast nine" session, it was Tagliani and his Sam Schmidt Motorsports team who set the fastest qualifying speed in the #77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara-Honda with a four-lap average of 227.472 mph.

Dixon qualified second and Servia third to line up beside Tagliani on the first three-car row. Sunday's "bump day" session, which gives ambitious drivers a shot at one of the top positions, was marred by heavy rain, preserving Tagliani's position at the front of the pack for when the race gets underway this coming Sunday. Update: Thanks to our astute readers, commenters and tipsters for pointing out the error in reporting the qualifying procedures.

Qualifying for the Indy 500 is based on average speed over a four-lap session (as opposed to a timed lap) and takes place over two days one week before the race. Saturday's "pole day" secures the top 24 positions on the grid, culminating in a second "fast nine" heat where the nine fastest drivers compete to determine their order in the front three rows. Sunday's "bump day", where grid positions 25-33 are filled. The slowest car, however, can be "bumped" by a challenger if he or she sets a higher qualifying speed. Tagliani's pole position, therefor, remains secure.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      You have to be kidding me AutoBlog! Seriously, you guys really need to get with the picture when it come to IndyCar! The fast nine, meaning the top 9 fastest drivers on Saturday get a shot at going for the pole. No matter their position after the 9 driver shootout they keep their spot in the top nine regardless if a bump day driver beats their speed. Meaning if one of the bump day drivers ran an average of 228 flat, they would be sitting tenth in the starting line up. Get off the F1 bandwagon. You are an American automotive blog so you need to write and LEARN more about American motorsports if you are going to write about motorsports.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. Pretty embarrassing that AutoBlog can't even explain the qualifying format correctly for the oldest and longest running car race in the US... Spots 1-9 were locked down on Saturday, only spots 10-33 were up for grabs on Sunday. Didn't even mention the drama of the Andretti fiasco on Sunday nor the resulting bump of Bruno via Andretti/Foyt....but they sure got to mention Trump getting bumped from the pace car job....
        • 4 Years Ago
        Are you really surprised after years of Indy 500 recaps like these from autoblog: http://www.autoblog.com/2007/05/29/so-yeah-the-indianapolis-500-happened-last-weekend/
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Sunday's "bump day" session, which gives ambitious drivers a shot at one of the top positions," No it doesn't, bump day is only for positions 25-33. The rain on Sunday made no difference for the top 24 positions.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Jacques didn't win that Indy 500 it was given to him after the pace car slowed down way too much entering the pits and Scott Goodyear was penalized for passing the stupid pace car driver while he was entering the pits.. That day Scott was way ahead of the field as far as having the best car that day. Scott shouldn't have lost the victory there because of dumb pace car driver. And I'm so tired of hearing that he won it from being twor laps down, give me break ! Everyone who understands the Indy 500 know you better ramp up your speed to the green flag a half a lap before on the back stretch or risk being passed at the start / finish line.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "I'm so tired of hearing that he won it from being twor laps down, give me break ! " If you keep on hearing about he won it 2 laps down it must be because you bring it up! Get over it! It was 1995 (ish)
      • 4 Years Ago
      As a European, this is one thing I don't understand about the Indy 500. It takes weeks to qualify? Why? Why not just do it one one weekend, like any normal motor race. What point is there in having practice sessions, then heats, then qualifying, then the race itself spread out over weeks and months? Is this like American basketball march playoffs where one match doesn't count so the same teams play each other a retarded number of times just to make good and sure?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Qualifying is all done in one weekend (traditionally two, but it has changed back and forth the last few years). The fastest on the first day of qualifying is awarded the pole position. The rest of the time, it is just practice. Carburetion Day (last day of practice before the race) is the last Friday (was traditionally the last Thursday) before the race (which is the Sunday before Memorial Day - which, itself, is the last Monday in May). There has been an effort in the last few years to compress the practice and qualifying. It used to be practice was basically all May, and qualification was on two weekends. Now, practice is basically two weeks, and qualifications are all on one weekend. Officially, much of this effort has been to increase the "action", but realistically, I don't think the race has the popularity to support the activities for a full month anymore. Although, I think the popularity of the race is on a slight upswing since the reunification of American open-wheel racing (and probably also because of Nascar's slight decline in popularity of late).
        Kai F. Lahmann
        • 4 Years Ago
        Having this spread to a whole week makes this a bigger show. The Indy 500 wants to be something special - so it's stretched so far. Also this qualification system gives everybody not only one but six chances to qualify. Also as the field is a lot bigger than for a normal IndyCar race (the regular field has 26 cars this year, while 40 tried to qualify for the 500 miles. Adding two teams, where drivers have changed for this race) you need to have a lot of practice. A few years ago close to all practicing was washed away by the rain - the result was, that the regular teams had a giant advance...

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