Photo: Indycar, Walt Kuhn
11-11:30 am – Fast 9 Practice NBC Gold
1:15-2:15 pm – Fast 9 Shootout NBC (1-3 pm coverage)
3:30-6 pm – Practice (NBCSN at 4 pm)
Good morning from the IMS northwest media center annex. This is an interesting and talented Fast Nine, and definitely one of the most unusual ones since the beginning of the pole shootout. The field has four former race winners, two rookies, two former pole winners, and drivers from five different teams. Andretti Autosport has four drivers who advanced to today and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has two.
The odds of having a first time polesitter are good. Marco Andretti showed yesterday that he is fast regardless of the time of day and the track conditions. While Scott Dixon’s late run yesterday was simply a show of strength, he won’t be running with the shadows on the track.
Rinus VeeKay is a rookie driving for Ed Carpenter Racing. VeeKay loves to go fast. The ECR team has been a perennial member of the Fast Nine. I look for the only Chevy in the Fast Nine to be on the front row.
As for predictions, I hate to jinx someone, but this is Marco’s pole to lose.
What’s missing from today’s shootout? Penske cars. Josef Newgarden was the fastes on the team in 13th. Will Power is 22nd, Simon Pagenaud is 25th and Helio Castroneves is 28th. Pagenaud has been a poor qualifier all season, but has come from the back to contend for the win. I am puzzled by Chevrolet’s overall lack of speed.
Scott Dixon will increase his points lead today by at least 1 point and as many as 9. he currently leads Pagenaud by49 points and Newgarden by 51.
I think the fastest driver on Saturday should receive at least a point.
James Hinchcliffe’s mask is creepy.
I saw a lot of anger on social media toward Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon for their late day runs. While I wished they hadn’t done it and given drivers who needed a shot a chance, these late day qualifying games have been played for the last 70 years. Watch film of Bump Days in the past and see what went on in the last 90 minutes or so. You’ll see pretty much what you saw yesterday. They were playing by the rules they were given.