Bump Day Wrap-Up
When Katherine Legge became the thirty-third qualifier, also occupying the thirty-third starting position, in the first hour of qualifying – I had no idea that we were looking at the final version of the starting grid for the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500. As the afternoon wore on, however, it became obvious that what was on the scoring pylon was the way things would look next Sunday.
Michel Jourdain, Jr. turned a lap of 219.843 in the morning practice and never approached that speed again. Those that say there was no drama today should tell that to Jourdain. His day was filled with drama. He kept seeing the car get away from his crew. The more they worked on the car, the worse it got. In the middle of the day, teammate Graham Rahal got in the Office Depot car to see why Jourdain couldn’t get it up to speed. After a few laps, Rahal came into the pits and proclained that the car was undrivable. It got worse.
By 5:30, it was very obvious that all the qualified cars were safe, but I still wanted to see if Jourdain would even get close enough tp Katherine Legge’s speed of 223.176. We never found out. At 5:50, the team mercifully threw in the towel and pushed the car back to the garage. Jourdain’s month was done without a single attempt for the day. Legge promptly climbed out of her car with the look of relief on her face. The anti-climactic day ended with cars on the track practicing.
As it turned out, the only on-track drama took place when Will Power slapped the Turn Four wall at 5:25, while practicing pit stops. Damage was insignificant as he was able to make it back into the pits under his own power.
I’d like to get back to the trials of Michel Jourdain Jr. I’m no engineer, so I’m probably going to get myself in trouble here – but how on earth does the same team have the ability to put a car in the field on Day One , another car on Day Two, yet look so totally inept when it tries to put a third car in? The more they chased the setup on that car, the slower the car went. When the Penske cars both failed to make the field in 1995, you knew whatever the problem was that it was a shared situation. Michel Jourdain, Jr. is no chump. He is a good and experienced driver, even though his only two starts at Indianapolis were sixteen years apart. He has won races and has a long history with Bobby Rahal’s team. I am bewildered what went so terribly wrong that they couldn’t even justify a single attempt today. Very strange happenings like this are what make the ever-evolving lore of the Indianapolis 500.
So the field is set. A tip of the hat to Katherine Legge for getting the car in after only twenty-nine laps of practice. A good job was also done by Conor Daly to shake off a scary crash earlier in the week and a blown engine on his qualifying run yesterday. He and Buddy Lazier will share the back row with Legge. Kudos also go to Pippa Mann, who got into a DW12 for the first time ever on Monday, ran only a handful of laps each day and puit it safely in. Pippa will start on the outside of Row Ten. Nashville native Josef Newgarden was the fastest of the second day qualifiers. Had he run his qualifying average of 225.731 on Saturday, he would be starting on the outside of Row Seven instead of the inside of Row Nine. Again, such are the breaks at this famed oval.
It was a fun weekend. Weather-wise, there were violent storms on Friday; moderate rain on Saturday and heat and sunshine on Sunday. The long-range forecast for Race Day could not be better – Sunny and a high of 69. Of course, that will probably change several times in the next week, but it sounds great for now.
This wraps up the second of three consecutive weekends in Indianapolis. We drive back to Nashville tonight, but will be back up here on Friday. I doubt that we’ll take part in the Carb Day activities. I‘m a little too old for a Poison concert. But I will be going to my first-ever Carb Night Burger Bash. My oldest brother will be here then and he and his crew will hopefully be joining us there as well. On Saturday, my other brother will be flying in. It has gotten to the point that I see my two brothers about twice a year – once for Christmas at my mother’s house and Race Weekend in Indianapolis. We hope to make it to the Dallara factory Saturday morning and head for the track as IMS will be honoring Parnelli Jones for Legend’s Day. Then of course – Race Day. I haven’t even left here yet and Friday can’t get here soon enough.
I’ll still have posts here everyday through the race. Thanks for following here throughout the weekend. It’s been a blast.