Qualifying A Wash – Literally

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After a curious delay for lightening, the Verizon IndyCar Series attempted to qualify for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park. They got partially through the second group of the first round before a huge clap of thunder shook the whole place. The on-board camera from Charlie Kimball’s car caught it. That pretty much brought things to a halt. We waited about thirty minutes before IndyCar officials determined that the giant red and yellow cell was here to stay.

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There was quite a bit of controversy, however. First, there was concern among all the drivers and crews as to why they weren’t running. There were lightening strikes in the area, but none nearby. I’m mixed on that call. One side of me says to not mess around with lightening, but another side tells me that more than likely – they could have run without incident at that early stage. The lightening was still several miles away at that point. I think IndyCar was looking at the situation from a lawyer’s point of view.

But when the call was made to red-flag the second group and to cancel qualifying altogether, I felt it was completely justified.

But in the short time they ran, that allowed enough time for some on-track controversy. Sébastien Bourdais spun at one point and got off-track. When he re-entered, it was determined by Race Control that he impeded Tony Kanaan. Before the call, Bourdais was first in the session and Kanaan was second. After the call was made, he was not to advance to the second round. Bourdais’s car owner, Jimmy Vasser, went ballistic on television in reaction to the call. My personal opinion? It should have been a no-call. Instead, it brought the Brian Barnhart haters out in full-force on social media. With qualifying cancelled, Kanaan will start third and Bourdaus sixth.

That will pretty much do it for us tonight. We’re going into town tonight to dine well and spend money that we shouldn’t be spending. But please check back early tomorrow. I promise to be here at a decent hour on Race Day. But we will bring an umbrella.

George Phillips

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8 Responses to “Qualifying A Wash – Literally”

  1. Let’s be honest, no matter how much the say otherwise, IndyCar does NOT run in the rain. They run in the damp. They should just admit that racing in the rain is just a fairy tale. There are a multitude of excuses but the bottom line is they just don’t trust the drivers and the backmarkers are so marginal financially that they can’t risk the cars.. They are constantly rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Running a race in NO in April invites this type of weather situation. I can just hear the comments of the fans waiting for the shuttles in a lightning storm.

    • Your last two words say the entire thing. You can’t throw corner workers and camera operators out in the middle of a field or up on scaffolding when there’s lightning in the area. This has nothing to do with rain or rain tires and everything to do with wanting to avoid lawsuits from the situation that somebody is killed by lightning.

  2. Bruce Waine Says:

    George – Hopefully, your umbrella will come in handy for providing shade as opposed to protection from the rain Sunday.

    Thanks for yours and Susan’s updates.

  3. To be fair, throughthecatchfence, it was raining fairly steadily when they let Dracone out on the track in the first qualifying group.

    After what happened at Pocono a few years ago, all outdoor sporting events are extremely careful with lightning in the area. I’ve been told to leave the stands at several football games because of lightning, just as I was at the track today. Whether the Indycar drivers and crews are in comparable danger to the fans seated high on aluminum bleachers may be debatable, but I’m not sure I can fault Indycar for not wanting to risk it.

    • That’s the entire thing, ‘skinky. NASCAR’s late decision to tell fans to take cover at Pocono, and the resulting death, have made IndyCar (and most other sanctioning bodies, to be sure) take a long, hard look at how they do things when lightning is anywhere close to the track. I can’t fault them one bit for that, as another lightning related fatality could bring a swift and expensive lawsuit against all parties concerned (how would everybody like to see the Leaders’ Circle program wiped out for 2016, in the case that IndyCar gets sued for $20 million for the death of a fan, track worker, camera operator, etc. for not acting quickly enough to get everybody under cover?). Even though a similar situation at Barber last year led me to only get to see 6-8 laps of racing after a long, long delay (and it was a nasty storm that rolled through Birmingham that day), I think IndyCar is doing the right thing.

  4. Regardless of canceling today’s efforts, Bourdais got a huge screwing. By the way, today’s television coverage was excellent.

  5. No one expects anyone to operate during active thunderstorms. However, IC as such has a solid history of hyrophobia. What is the point of even producing rain tires if they are only used to roll the car back and forth from the paddock.
    Here is my take on fans and lightning… If you are outdoors and you are relying on someone else or any organization to tell you when it is or is not safe to be outside with lightning in the area, you are setting yourself up for disaster. At some point people must take responsibility for their actions. Now more than ever there are any number of weather/radar lightning activity applications available for ones smart phone. There’s that and common sense and there seems to be a growing number of potential Darwin Award winners out there.. .

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