Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Preview
As we prepared for our third of four straight weekends at IMS, fate has played a welcomed hand in out travels. On Tuesday, Susan was asked by her company if she could go to Greenwood, IN on Wednesday to help out a co-worker. Wednesday through Friday, she is to work in Indiana – even though she had already scheduled a day off for today. She was happy to do it, because she did not have to burn a vacation day for today. The best part for me was that I drove up here last night after work and stayed in her company-paid hotel. I can now get to the track extra early this morning – long before the gates open.
Susan will work the day today and we’ll meet up at our usual hotel this evening. She’ll be the first to admit that she doesn’t like to keep the same pace as I do, so everything is a compromise. If I want to be at the track at 7:00, she wants to be there at noon – so 9:30 or 10:00 ends up being the norm. Today, I can do whatever I want and whenever I want to. Susan’s good with that, which is why she’s such a good sport and racing travel companion.
Susan will be with me at the track for both days of qualifying What she will miss today is what is traditionally known as Fast Friday. This is the final day before qualifications. It is the day when the cars have supposedly been figured out and trimmed out. Hopefully, they can sort out the aero kit issues with the Chevys that saw Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden walk away from frightening crashes in the past two days.
What’s really scary is that no one really knows what the problem is. I’m no engineer, so I will not even speculate. But I hope someone figures it out so that we won’t be seeing any more upside down race cars.
Today is also the day that teams are given the extra turbocharger boost. This is one of my many pet-peeves that I will be careful and not write the entire post about. That being said, this is what I consider manufactured drama. What’s the point in giving the extra boost this weekend and then dialing it back down for the race? Those in the know, say that there is a good chance that the track record may be flirted with next year. I’m thinking that if a new track record is set with added boost that is only available for one weekend, then there should be an asterisk by it since those boost levels were not available for the entire month, including the race.
Granted, speeds are always faster during qualifying than for the race, but that’s because the teams completely trim the car out for qualifying, then add more downforce back into their race setup. But the added boost is strictly sensationalistic so that they can talk about how much faster the cars are now. Give them the same amount of boost for the entire month. If it’s dialed back, fine. If it’s increased, that’s fine too. Just keep it consistent throughout the month. But don’t artificially inflate the speeds for qualifying. OK, I’ll get off of my soapbox now.
Based on the speeds we’ve seen earlier this week, it doesn’t look like any records will be broken this weekend. I’m not even sure that Ed Carpenter’s pole speed of 231.067 mph from last year will be eclipsed, but based on what we’ve seen for the last couple of days, it will. After the May 3rd open-test, everyone thought that the pole speed would be 235. I predicted 232. I’m sticking with that number, but what do I know?
I’ll admit that I’m still not 100% up to speed on this new qualifying format. The main thing to know is that the Sunday’s Fast Nine will be set tomorrow. I also think that the one car to be bumped will be sent home tomorrow (I think). But after positions 10-33 qualify on Saturday – for some strange reason, those cars re-qualify on Sunday morning to determine their starting positions. There is also something screwy about setting the last row that is so convoluted I can’t describe it.
Then the Fast Nine Shootout takes place between positions 1-9 to determine the first three rows and, of course, the pole position. Common sense tells me that it will be a Penske car, but you never know. Scott Dixon has been consistently fast all week. I will say this, there are more contenders for the fast Nine than there are slots. The surprise probably won’t be who makes the Fast Nine, it’ll be who doesn’t. Between three CFH cars, four Penskes and at least two contending Ganassi cars and one good KV car – that’s ten right there. Throw in a Honda or two from Andretti, Rahal or Schmidt and there’s some real non-manufactured drama.
So, I won’t even try to guess the pole winner. It would be a crap shoot. But I will guess the team – Ganassi. Either Scott Dixon or Tony Kanaan will win the pole, that is if their team doesn’t run them out of fuel like they did a few years ago.
That’ll do it for now. Please check back throughout today and all three days of the weekend for updates and trivial opinions. Also, another gratuitous Twitter reminder – for up to date comments and photos, please follow me (@Oilpressureblog) and Susan at (MrsOilpressure). Please check back later today.