What years did the 500 winner get a copy of the Indianapolis Star in Victory Lane? How did that get started and why did it end?
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How many times has the fastest qualifier NOT been on the pole? – Multiple inquiries
There have been quite a few of those. We’ll discount the first few years because the lineup for 1911 and 1912 was determined by the order of entry and the lineup for 1913 and 1914 by a blind draw. Overall speed was the determining factor in 1915, with a modification in 1916 that successful first-day qualifiers would start ahead of the second-day qualifiers, and second-day qualifiers would start ahead of third-day qualifiers, etc., so that it would be possible for the fastest qualification run to take place even on the final day, a situation which actually took place on more than one occasion. The extreme case occurred in 1952 when Chet Miller qualified the second Novi as the very last to successfully “make the show.” Others made attempts after him, but none were successful. In fact, Miller even broke the four-lap record in the process with a run at 139.034 mph, his single-lap record of 139.600 mph having been turned during an incomplete run two days earlier. It is the only example ever of the track record having been broken by the last successful qualifier.
The others who were the fastest qualifiers but not on the pole, in addition to Miller, were Billy Arnold (1931), Jimmy Snyder (1937), Ronney Householder (1938), Ralph Hepburn (1946), Bill Holland (1947), Duke Nalon (1948), Walt Faulkner (1951), Jack McGrath (1955), Paul Russo (1957), Jim Hurtubise (1960), Mario Andretti (1976), Tom Sneva (1981), Gary Bettenhausen (1991), Arie Luyendyk (1996), and Kenny Brack (2005).
This means that Andretti, Sneva and Luyendyk were actually the fastest qualifiers four times each, although only on the pole three times.
A little side story on Faulkner is that he had set one- and four-lap track records to win the pole in 1950, but when these were broken by the Novi of Duke Nalon on the first qualifying day in 1951, Faulkner wasn’t even at the track. Hard to believe considering the way things are done now, but Faulkner and chief mechanic Clay Smith were towing their J.C. Agajanian-owned car back from California on an open trailer behind a station wagon and they had run into several snow storms along the way. They had been delayed by several days and did not even learn that their 1950 records had been broken until they finally made it to a Midwestern truck stop and found a newspaper!