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.

George Phillips


11 Responses to “Bump Day Wrap-Up”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    Thank you George, a fine job, drive safe and no sleeping till you get home…

  2. Thanks, George! Looking forward to seeing you and Susan at IMS on Saturday. Save a tenderloin for me.

  3. Steve K Says:

    I am 31 and am too young for the Poison concert. Funny how that works.

    Jourdain’s car had to have something wrong with it more that the wrong wing angle or springs. Motorsportstalk said it was raced at Long Beach. I wonder if it was involved in any incidents there. Get’em next year Jourdain!

  4. George, it was a lot of fun at Oilpressure.com this weekend. Good work. As for today’s activity, I am not impressed with Kathrine Legge’s effort because anyone could have qualified in the 33 position with her car.

  5. Doug from Indy Says:

    Good work as usual George. Hope you weekend was as enjoyable at IMS as mine. I do miss the old days of multiple bumps, but am as mystified as you on Jourdains problems. These cars are virtual copies of one another with different power plants. RLL all same power. I would have expected all cars to be close in performance.dd

  6. Jourdain had his best performances with Rahal in the CART days. Sorry he didn’t make it into The Show. Possibly a tweaked chassis.

  7. Carburetor Says:

    Thanks for your posts George–it’s great to get the perspective from someone actually there. It was tough luck for Jourdain–something wrong with that chassis from the factory???

    Maybe I’m the only one, but am nervous about having the rookie in the middle of the first row–could be a recipe for trouble as it appeared on TV that he is a high-risk taker that drives very aggressively. He made some questionable passes during practice that had the TV booth gang shaking their heads. Put Viso in P4 at the start and look-out!

    I hope your weathercast is more accurate than Weather.com–who is predicting 30% chance of rain on Sunday.

    • I share your trepidation about about the rookie and and Viso in first two rows. Not to mention Marco who I assume intends to lead every lap.

  8. I miss the gut-wrenching (it’s always described as “gut-wrenching”) bump days of yore and hope the series can progress to the point where more cars and drivers are fighting to make the race. It’s almost better than the race when it comes to dramatics.

    George, your enthusiasm for IMS and the 500 is contagious.

  9. Leigh O'Gorman Says:

    Good stuff George,
    Unfortunately, getting pole and bump day coverage – of any kind – was pretty impossible on this side of the Atlantic, but it looks like a pretty decent line-up with one or two surprises.

    Bring on the race.

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