First qualifier Pato O’Ward’s time stood up well as he finished second today.
It was a day of swings in the weather, luck of the draw, frustrations, and disappointment. There were tactical errors, driver errors, and fantastic drives. All in all, it was a great first qualifying day.
Rinus VeeKay put up the third fastest average in Speedway history, a 233.655 mph average, with a best lap of 234.702 mph, the fastest lap since 1996. Only Arie Luyendyk and Scott Brayton had higher averages in qualifying.
Before qualifying began, two cars were gone from the lineup. Stefan Wilson’s team reversed second and third gears, causing the car to overrev. The team changed the engine as a precaution, but he never returned to the track. Wilson will start 33rd.
Juan Pablo Montoya’s failed inspection and was sent to the back of the line. The move cost Montoya his guaranteed run.
The track warmed as the clouds cleared. the drivers who drew spots in the middle of the pack had little chance at the front two rows, but still had a shot at the top 12, who are eligible for the pole tomorrow.
Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti provided the day’s mon track drama. Sato had completed his run, but didn’t run low as he slowed on the backstretch. Andretti came up on him as he started his warmup lap and had to check up, ruining his run. Sato’s time was taken down. Andretti went out again , but could only manage 23rd fastest.
Sato went out to requalify. He brushed the wall on his second lap but still made the top twelve. He bumped teammate David Malukas in doing so.
Following a halt for lightning and rain, Team Penske withdrew times for Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden. McLaughlin lost nearly 10 spots and will start the race 26t. Newgarden was on his warmup lap when the rain returned. Indycar called the day over, and Newgarden kept 14th place.
The top 12:
A lot of respect for Sato for keeping the run going after brushing the wall. He turned what could have been a disastrous day into a top 12 spot for tomorrow.
The rain may have saved Newgarden several positions. I wonder what he thought after Mclaughlin’s run.
Is the second qualifying run becoming the new bumping? I have never been a fan of multiple attempts, but today the second runs were dramatic and had some large implications for where some drivers start next Sunday.
I did feel that Marco should have been allowed to requalify immediately. I hope Indycar looks at a procedural change for a situation like that. I really hope that a similar situation never happens again. That could have been very dangerous. I’m glad sato was penalized.
The efficient way that the entire field qualified today makes me wonder if qualifications and practice may be shortened in the future. I think it would take a lot away from the entire event to compact May even more.
How odd to see only one Team Penske driver eligible for the pole. Will Power would not have been in contention last year when just the first nine had a chance on Sunday.
I would not count out Marcus Ericsson or Felix Rosenqvist to end up on the front row tomorrow.
Thanks for following along today. More fun tomorrow.