Rain Affects Qualifying…Again

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We must be the ones responsible for the bad weather. Susan and I have been to two of the four race weekends so far this season. The two we didn’t go to? St. Petersburg and Long Beach. Weather was no factor at all at those two venues. The two we’ve been to so far? NOLA and Barber. We know what happened at NOLA. While tomorrow still looks good for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama; qualifying was affected by weather at a race weekend we attended. Some may wonder if we should go to IMS next month.

We had just settled into our perch atop Turn Two for the first session of qualifying, when we saw the weather on the way. Qualifying was moved up five minutes in hopes that it would be avoided. The skies did not look good.

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The first round was not complete before the dreaded announcement came to seek shelter and evacuate. Susan and I made a buzz back to the Media Center. The drops started falling just as we made it in. But Round Two was still going. It looked as if they would be able to get the entire Fast Six Qualifying in; but when lightening came on the scene – that stopped it and justifiably so. Racing in the rain is one thing, but I don’t mess around with lightening.

While they were instructing everyone to find shelter, we were having to put our faith in the temporary structure that is the media center here. The walls and ceiling are essentially tent-flaps attached to aluminum poles. Let’s be clear – this is NOT the best place during an electrical storm, but it’s better than out in the open field. Any way, we survived.

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They checkered-flagged the Fast Six session early. There were no huge surprises as far as the Fast Six was concerned. Helio Castroneves is the pole-sitter for tomorrow’s race. his Penske teammate, Will Power, will start alongside. The second row is comprised of Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Ganassi driver Scott Dixon. CFH driver Josef Newgarden continues to show great consistency in qualifying and will start fifth next to Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan.

It’s who was not in that group that’s the surprise. Juan Montoya failed to make iot out of the first round and will start fifteenth. There were also no Andretti cars to make it out of the first round. Marco Andretti is the leading Honda, and he will roll off thirteenth. Two-time defending champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will start eighteenth and Carlos Muñoz continues his invisible 2015 campaign by starting twenty-second.

Marco Andretti was justifiably critical of the Honda aero kits after he failed to crack the second group. He called it “the elephant in the room”. I don’t blame him.

Graham Rahal is the fastest Honda and will start eighth, continuing his vast improvement over last season. James Hinchcliffe is the only other Honda in the Top-Ten and will start tenth. That’s pretty much been the story for Honda through the first quarter of this season.

As far as the rest of the Top-Ten goes, Sébastien Bourdais starts seventh and Luca Filippi goes off in ninth. Except for Filippi’s shunt in the second practice session, CFH Racing has had a good weekend and placed both cars in the Top-Ten. Another tip of the cap goes to Sage Karam, who seems to have recovered from his horrible weekend at NOLA. He made it out of the first round and will start twelfth. For the record, Francesco Dracone will start last in twenty-third, almost two seconds slower than Muñoz in twenty-second. Mercifully, this is his last race. Let’s hope he can make it through tomorrow without anything drastic happening.

Well, the storm has subsided and we’re going to call it a day. We don’t know what our dinner plans are, but if it noteworthy – I’ll report it tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, Susan is putting together a post of her wanderings today, while I was doing race stuff. She will have it up here first thing in the morning. Check it out and then check back later in the morning for when we arrive.

George Phillips

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6 Responses to “Rain Affects Qualifying…Again”

  1. Ron Ford Says:

    California governor Jerry Brown is trying to get in touch with you George.

  2. George, it looks like Qualifying recovered even with you and Susan in attendance. Things are looking up and I am expecting great weather for all of us in Indianapolis. As for Barber, Honda has A LOT of fixing to do because it is looking ugly. I hate to see the Andretti team out of it so early. As things stand I am pulling for Dixon and Newgarden. However, I’d like to see RHR and Hinch find some speed.

    This really is my favorite time of the year!!

  3. Just imagine how bad things will get at Honda if the first day of 500 practice does not go well.

  4. Thanks George for your report. So glad you and Susan missed the rain and qualifying went off without a hitch. I had planned to stay up and watch the tape delay coverage on NBCSN, but it is no longer on tonight’s schedule. Am bitter! Oh, and yes, please bring rain to California!

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