And Then The Rains Came…
The safety trucks worked diligently to get the track dried. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to, since it still kept spitting rain while they worked. The trucks made multiple laps while the jet-dryer was hard at work. It’s very windy here today, so that helped.
The weather never looked great, but since it had quit raining – they had to give it a shot. As the track dried, a look up at the sky did nothing to make us think that there would be a whole lot of running today – if any. Still, there was hope, even if the dark clouds hanging over the Pagoda told us that the efforts may be in vain.
As it turned out, they did manage to dry the track and the cars did take to the track – for a whopping fifteen minutes. But with the cooler temperatures and the added boost for the weekend – that was enough to see the first official lap over 230 mph to be turned since Helio Castroneves did it in 2003. I can’t take credit for that little tidbit. Paul Dalbey of More Front Wing, pulled that one out of his hat. Ed Carpenter ran a total of eight laps and got up to 230.522. Helio was right behind him with a lap of 229.843. Altogether, there was a total of seven drivers over 229; also including Marco Andretti, JR Hildbrand, Josef Newgarden, Juan Montoya and Scott Dixon.
Carpenter’s speed is no fluke. He was last year’s pole-sitter and has been consistently fast all month. It’s also good to see JR Hildebrand having a good month with Ed Carpenter Racing, after being kicked to the curb by John Barnes and Panther Racing after last year’s Indianapolis 500. It’s funny how things work out. One year later, Hildebrand is back for this year’s “500”, while Barnes and Panther are nowhere to be found.
In the short time the cars were on-track, you knew it would not be for long. As you can see by the picture below, the focus was more on the low-hanging clouds than it was on James Hinchcliffe running in the foreground. As it turns out – this was the last lap before the rains came.
And when the rains came, it was serious. We were standing on the mound overlooking Turn Two, when we were engulfed in a downpour. We ran for cover and found shelter under the roof of the same concession stand that sold me the “old-style” tenderloin last week. Unfortunately, today they were closed, but we still took advantage of their shelter.
We worked our way back to the Media Center in between downpours. It actually stopped raining and they started drying the track again. But I guess the radar and the clock were working against each other. After about thirty minutes, they announced that there would be no more track activity for the remainder of the day.
So Fast Friday turned out to be Fifteen-minute Friday. At least they pulled the plug early instead of having everyone wait around. I think they made the right call. As I type and look out over the front-straightaway, I see more low-hanging clouds to the west. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the rain yet today, but things are looking better for tomorrow.
Tomorrow promises to be busy and interesting. Practice starts at 8:00, while qualifying begins at 11:00.
That’s going to do it for us today. We’re going to take advantage of the early checkered-flag and go check in to our hotel. Then, we’re going to dinner and call it an early night. It’s a big day tomorrow. Please check back here early and follow along.