The Qualifying Midday Lull Has Begun

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Well, the day has certainly not been boring. The weather has been a big question mark and has altered several strategies. As I was walking back to the Media Center, I felt a few sprinkles hitting my face. The driver probably most affected by the weather has been Ryan Briscoe. Briscoe crashed his primary car at 8:15 this morning, forcing him into his backup car. The best he could get that car to run for the remained of the morning practice was in the 223 range. It got no better in qualifying, as he stayed in that range and eventually got bumped.

Had the weather conditions not been questionable, I’m certain that team Penske would have spent the afternoon working with the car and getting it up to speed. Instead, they put it back in the qualifying line and used another attempt hoping to at least lock in to the top twenty-four. It didn’t improve. Now they are down to one more attempt for the day. If they don’t get in then, the best that Briscoe can hope for is to get in tomorrow and start no better than twenty-fifth.

Team Penske has struggled today with Briscoe’s problems. Will Power is sitting in the seventh starting point currently while Helio Castroneves is provisionally in the sixteenth starting point. While Team Penske has had a tough day, Target Chip Ganassi has flourished. Scott Dixon currently sits in the middle of the front row; while his teammate, Dario Franchitti, sits beside him on the outside of Row One.

The story of the week continues to be Alex Tagliani and Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Tagliani is the provisional pole sitter at 226.954 mph. The question is – will it hold up? There is also the lingering question of rain. Since everyone has had an opportunity to qualify, if the rains came – the top twenty-four would be locked in. Then, once the field filled on Sunday (weather permitting) – the slowest car regardless of when they qualified is vulnerable to bumping.

As I sit typing, Simona de Silvestro has gone back out for a second attempt and has bumped Bruno Junqueira from the field. She then has been subsequently bumped, herself – leaving her with one more attempt for the day. Currently, the car on the bubble is Ana Biatriz at 224.258.

Cars are on track practicing right now. Although there is a lull in the action, there promises to be plenty of action and drama in the five o’clock hour – if the rains stay away. Check back later.

George Phillips

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