Random Thoughts From Bump Day
As I mentioned earlier, the crowd here today ended up being very sparse. Granted, there was not the suspense today that was present in last year’s bump day. In fact there was none – although I‘m not sure Charlie Kimball would agree with that statement. John McLallen & I were walking towards the museum, when we heard the unmistakable sound of tires squealing. I looked up just in time to see Kimball smack the wall coming out of Turn One. Then the loud thud followed. Sidepod parts flew about twenty feet into the air, as the car skidded across the track before grinding to a stop. Fortunately, Kimball escaped injury but the same could not be said for the car. Assuming the tub isn’t cracked, he should be able to keep his fourteenth starting position.
Other than that, things mostly went according to plan. Everyone got qualified that needed to get qualified. The two Lotus-powered calls were the two slowest, as expected. Maybe the only real surprise was that Wade Cunningham outqualified his Foyt teammate, Mike Conway. The two crashed cars of Ed carpenter and Bryan Clausen were both repaired in time and qualified safely.
The rest of the day was just practice. Today was the last day the cars will be allowed on the track until Friday’s Carb Day, so teams wanted to work on race setups as much as possible. It was hot today and the seven-day forecast says it’s going to be hotter on Race Day, so it was a good day to get used to running in the heat. I have to admit that I’m a little worried. With the perfect weather that the Speedway has had since opening day, the law of averages would say that rain should enter into the equation at some point. If there is to be rain, hopefully it’ll be Carb Day and not Race Day.
TV Coverage: Since I was here, I obviously saw no television coverage. I’ll be curious to watch the DVR when I get home to see just how NBC Sports Network filled six hours of air time with mostly practice.
Post-Qualifying Penalties: As I was typing, the media staff came by to hand me a release regarding eleven cars that failed post-qualifying inspections. The group of eleven included the entire front-row. As best I can tell, there are no penalties that involve changes in starting positions. Instead, the teams in question have all been fined. Most fines are in the $10,000 range, but the car of Jean Alesi suffered a $50,000 penalty.
Track PA: First of all, there is no replacing Tom Carnegie. We all realize that. But I feel the need to come to the defense of track announcer Dave Calabro. He may not have had an error-free weekend, but I think he has a very good presence on the PA. He doesn’t try to be Tom Carnegie, but he doesn’t have to. he and Carnegie worked together for years and Calabro developed his own style over the years.
If you want to throw some criticism at anyone, Ralph Sheheen would be an easy target. I think Sheheen does a good job on radio and on television, but those talents don’t always transfer over as a PA announcer. His high-pitched voice doesn’t carry and he talks way too much. I’ve noticed this bad trait on race day as well.
All in all: The track did not have the same buzz this weekend as it did last year – but that’s an unfair comparison since the track pulled out all the stops for the Centennial Celebration. The lack of entrants probably had something to do with that, but I see that as a one-time deal. the lack of engines prevented drivers like Vitor Meira, Pippa Mann and Jay Howard from getting rides. That should change next year.
But to say that today was boring would be incorrect. The day was beautiful, there were a lot of cars running on the track and we had the privilege of being at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Anytime you can be at IMS is a great day. That’s why I feel so honored to have been married here on Friday night (If you haven’t read the wedding post, scroll down a little bit. We are now about to pack up and head back top Nashville and reality for a few days before returning here next weekend. then the honeymoon will officially begin after the race. Thanks for reading all through the weekend and I’ll still be posting every day this week.