A Calm End To A Crazy Day
I’ve been coming to this place for a long time, and this was one of the stranger days that I’ve seen. This place was a pressure cooker this morning. It was borderline amusing to watch all of the news hounds chasing every lead and rumor that was running through here. Since I just ramble on with my opinion about stuff and never report news, it made for good entertainment to watch and hear everyone reporting rumors.
After the Mark Miles press conference, thing settled down. Everyone ate lunch, caught their breathe and headed out to pit lane to watch qualifying. It was setting up to be real drama, not the manufactured gimmicky kind. Every driver would get one shot. Have a solid run, and you’re more than likely in. Wad up your car and you’re going home – no matter if you are Bryan Clauson or Will Power. There would be no strategy, no wave-offs or second chances. Go fast for four laps and see what happens.
Quite honestly, I was very nervous. Whether you like them or not, there were certain drivers that needed and deserved to be in the Indianapolis 500. If they happened to brush the wall coming out of Turn Two, it would be “Wait ‘til next year”. Plus, I have my own personal favorites that weren’t contenders for the pole, but certainly weren’t locks to make the field. the key was to make sure your favorites stayed off of the back row.
One of the biggest question marks of the day was answered fairly quickly. After Ed Carpenter crashed his primary car this morning, his crew thrashed his backup together in record time. In the practice session prior to qualifying, Carpenter was thirty-second out of the thirty-four cars that practiced. You wondered how well the car would do in qualifying. Carpenter was the third qualifier and put the car on the provisional pole. It didn’t hold, but by the end of the day Ed Carpenter found himself starting on the outside of the fourth row. After the day he had, Carpenter had to be happy with the result.
The next qualifier was Scott Dixon. His first lap was a blistering 227.729 mph and his four-lap average was 226.760. Then the waiting game started. Dixon withstood challenges from Will Power and Simon Pagenaud to hold on to the pole position. This is the second Indianapolis 500 pole for Dixon. The last time he won the pole was 2008 – coincidentally the only time he won the race.
Spots 1-30 were filled without incident. But then, they instituted another gimmick that they came up with last year – last row bumping. Since there were only thirty-three entries last year, this did not come into play. With thirty-four for this year, we would see this rule enacted. When the field was full, the three slowest qualifiers were Bryan Clauson, Jack Hawksworth and Stefano Coletti
When Buddy Lazier passed on his spot, I wondered if there would be any late afternoon drama. As it turns out, Lazier’s crew was doing yeoman’s work back in the garage area. There were gearbox issues and steering issues with Lazier’s car. It seemed pointless to me to have those other three come out to re-qualify and put their car rs at risk, while Buddy Lazier attempted something which seemed futile.
But re-qualify they did. All three went out and the slowest of the three, Bryan Clauson, became the new bubble speed. Then Lazier went out and ran a 219.336. But there was still plenty of time in the forty-five minute session. Lazier worked on the car, while Clauson’s car sat in position to run again, if needed. It wasn’t.
The gun went off at 7:00 (which was another strange happening). Clauson was in and Lazier was out. So the field was set.
I will be here tomorrow with my random thoughts from the weekend, but I need to get on the road. Thanks to everyone for following along this weekend. It was a blast.