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.
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.
"I felt like, coming in, that we had a chance to be on the pole," Carpenter said. "To sit on the pole for this race is really a dream come true, and I hope it is a start to what has already been a great month of May. The car has been great and I can't thank my team enough. The sponsors, a lot of great people helped us get here. This is just the first part of what we are here to do."