Ed Carpenter led nine drivers who surpassed 230 mph Saturday in the first round of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In a six-hour session featuring 71 qualifying attempts by 33 entries, Carpenter turned in a four-lap average speed of 230.661 mph and led a blistering pace that resulted in the first qualifiers above 230 mph since 2003.
Joining Carpenter in the 230 club that will participate in the Fast Nine Shootout for the pole on Sunday were Carlos Munoz (230.460 mph), Helio Castroneves (230.432), James Hinchcliffe (230.407), Will Power (230.323), Marco Andretti (230.134), Simon Pagenaud (230.070), Josef Newgarden (230.033) and JR Hildebrand (230.027).
The top nine will run in reverse order Sunday to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner and pole-sitter for the May 25 Indy 500. Saturday's 10-33 finishers will re-qualify on Sunday to determine their starting positions.
"I think we have a good chance for the pole, but the field is very tight this year," Carpenter, driving No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car, told IndyCar.com. "It will come down on who gets it right on the day for the pole. It really comes down to being perfect for four laps."
Carpenter set the tone early Saturday with a four-lap average speed of 230.114 mph. After being knocked to fifth, he turned in the session's best lap on his second try.
"Every day you come out you want to be the best you can be," said Carpenter, who won the pole in 2013 at 228.762 mph. "It's always fun being quickest at Indy. You get into these two days and you can't really think about the race or work on your race car. If you've got a fast car like the Fuzzy's guys, you try to do the best you can with it."
Kurt Busch is seeking to be the fourth driver to compete in the Indy 500 and the stock car race in Concord, N.C., the same day. He finished 10th in the Indy qualifying at 229.960 on Saturday.
"I've qualified a Pro Stock car on the quarter-mile. I've done the longest track on the NASCAR circuit (Talladega)," Busch said, "but to do four laps here ... just the sheer excitement of trusting a car with downforce going down into Turn 1 at 230 is indescribable.
"Qualifying at Indy you have to do it over 10 miles and you have to do it in the most unnerving conditions with the car; the car is not ready to go 230, but you have to handle it. It's been an experience, the month of May in an IndyCar."