Fans hoped that the return of bumping would bring drama back to qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There was plenty to go around. As the gun sounded, however, many were not happy with the results. Two perennial favorites, Pippa Mann and James Hinchcliffe, were out of the field for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500, while another favorite, Conor Daly, fought his way onto the grid-twice.
James Davison, who had a hard crash Friday afternoon. sat for the last hour waiting to see if he would be bumped. His crew completed repairs around 2 am. Bob Lazier loaned the team parts to rebuild the gearbox.
Davison was in a difficult position. He couldn’t withdraw his time until he was bumped. He had a spot and had to keep it. Mann wasn’t fast enough, and Hinchcliffe didn’t get another chance.
Conor Daly”s first attempt of the day ended with a 22.684 average. He was eventually bumped. His second effort put him back in the field. Oriol Servia, who was having a difficult day himself, bumped Daly on his third attempt of the day. Daly went out a third time and bumped Hinchcliffe out.
Servia had a problem on his first run and it was called off after laps of 201, 196, and 194. His second had two respectable laps in the low 220 range, but after he dropped to 217 on the third, the crew stopped the effort. He finally bumped his way in near the end of the day’.
In what would be Hinchcliffe’s final attempt of the day, he felt a vibration as he pulled out of pit lane. It went way, but it returned in turn 3 and he decided to pull in. The problem was a tire sensor broke and was rattling around inside the wheel. Hinchcliffe got back in line, but time ran out before he could get another try.
Press Conferences- Highs and Lows
The post qualifying press conferences ranged from silly to emotional. Foutr members of the Fast Nine- Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Ed Carpenter, and Danica Patrick- spoke. They mostly joked around and all expected to be on the pole tomorrow.
James Davison talked about how hard his crew worked to get the car ready after the crash on Friday.
“The only way to repay them (the crew) was to make the race,” he said, “We owe them immensely.”
He sees no point in running hard Sunday to improve his position.
Pippa Man and James Hinchcliffe also spoke in separate appearances. they both came from several rounds of on air interviews and team discussions. They both looked emotionally drained. I admire them both for making one last stop to talk to the media.
In her brief emotional remarks, Mann said she knew Friday they might be in trouble when the car, which had performed well Wednesday and Thursday was not fast yesterday morning. Everything on the car was changed.
“We tried everything, obviously it wasn’t fast enough. It’s the worst feeling in the world.”
Hinchcliffe was subdued and direct. ” This was our fault. Nobody failed us We failed us,” he told the media. His comments seemed pointed at those on social media blaming ABC, the drivers who went out just before him, and anyone else they could think of for his not getting into the race.
“This track has done worse to me in the past and we came back swinging,” he said, referring to his crash in 2015 followed by winning the pole the following year.
As to speculation that he might replace Jay Howard in the race, “I will do what Sam (Schmidt) and Rick (Peterson tell me to do, ” he answered.
As I said in a previous piece, the current qualifying format was designed for a field of 33 entries only. The rules need to be changed when there are more entries. We knew two cars were going home. We can’t be angry at the system because our favorite drivers are the ones left out. Sad for them, yes; disappointed, absolutely. More on this topic tomorrow.
I will post an update when I get to the track. The weather this afternoon looks iffy.