ANDERSON, Ind. — Caleb Armstrong used consistency over a one-mile run to win the pole for the 69th annual Pay Less Little 500 during Thursday’s weather-delayed qualifying session.
Scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., action was pushed back several hours after morning rains kept the quarter-mile, high-banked bullring wet for much of the day, but when things finally kicked off the margin for error was razor-thin.
Armstrong’s No. 7c posted a four-lap aggregate time of 45.164 seconds (79.710 mph), and though his final two individual laps were slower than runner-up Kyle Hamilton, the overall result was enough to edge out Hamilton’s time by .010 of a second in the end.
Thursday marked Armstrong’s second-career and second-consecutive pole for the historic, 500-lap sprint car crown jewel, after finishing 13th, 12 laps down in last year’s edition of the historic event.
Hamilton secured his best-career starting spot at the Little 500, driving the Klatt Enterprises/Bob East No. 5 to a four-lap time of 45.174 seconds and posting the best single-lap time of the day (11.149) on his final of the four laps.
Coming off a win at the Rumble in Fort Wayne for Don and Mel Kenyon this winter, Hamilton will roll off from the middle of the front row in second on Saturday night.
Defending race champion Kody Swanson, this year driving the Nolen Racing No. 4, completed the front row with a four-lap time of 45.283 seconds.
Swanson is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the Little 500 since Jacob Wilson in 2013 and 2014.
C.J. Leary, Wilson and rookie Austin Nemire make up row two, ahead of Jerry Coons Jr., 2015 polesitter Bobby Santos III and two-time race winner Chris Windom in row three.
Brian Gerster completed the top 10, followed by Chris Neuenschwander, Scott Hampton, Russ Gamester, Shane Cottle and Jimmy McCune, who was the last driver to lock in on his day one time in 15th.
Among those who are currently in the 33-car field but aren’t yet locked in are Nick Hamilton (16th), retired NASCAR veterans Tony Stewart (18th) and Ken Schrader (21st), Davey Hamilton Jr. (24th) and two-time winner Brian Tyler (25th).
Chris Jagger is the last car currently in the field, qualified 33rd with a four-lap time of 47.936 seconds.
Mark Hall, Dameron Taylor, Grant Thormeier, Doug Fitzwater and Tom Paterson all took time during opening day qualifying, but are not yet in the 33-car field on speed.
Bump Day for the 69th annual Pay Less Little 500 begins with practice at 11:30 a.m., followed by qualifications from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…