Coverage of practice and qualifications until 5 pm will be on NBC Gold. The last hour will be on NBCSN.
All 36 cars will make qualifying runs today. The fastest 30 are locked in to the race. Tomorrow, weather permitting, the fastest nine will each get one attempt to determine the staring order of the first three rows.
The six slowest cars from today will then each get one attempt to make the field. The fastest three will be the last row a week from Sunday. The 500 no longer has alternate starters.
The latest weather forecast calls for sunny and 82 degrees today. Tomorrow there is a 90% chance of rain with a possible severe thunderstorm. If Sunday is completely washed out, the slowest six will make their attempts on the next available track day. There will be no Fast Nine runs for the pole. Today’s order will be official.
Going for the Pole
As I said yesterday, look for the usual suspects. The teams in last year’s Fast Nine should make up the first three rows. Drivers who could crash the party are Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, and I wouldn’t count out Marco Andretti, who has been fast all month.
I don’t think we will see many 230 mph laps today with the heat. fewer than ten drivers reached that mark yesterday and today will be warmer. Those going out early will have a big advantage.
The team has put in a lot of work to get the backup car ready. Crew from their Road to Indy program are helping out. NFP has increased their sponsorship. Other teams have offered parts. The Indycar family always comes through when a team is in need.
Needless to say, but Juncos racing and Kyle Kaiser will have a lot of fans today. Qualifying hasn’t had a true underdog to cheer for in a long time. Making the race after yesterday’s incident would show the true spirit of this race. should Juncos get in, we will have exhibit A for no guaranteed spots.
The Last Row
I haven’t seen anything to change my thoughts on the last three in and the three going home. Tomorrow’s weather may make the slowest six sweat out an extra 24 hours.
I plan to have an update after every 15 qualifiers as well as keeping you aware of the Juncos situation. This evening, look for my Quick Thoughts on the day and a full wrap-up after that.