Quick, Well, Day After, Thoughts- Day 2 Qualifying

The format did provide drama. James Hinchcliffe and Fernando Alonso had to wait until the final two qualifiers ran to see if they made the race.

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James Hinchcliffe pauses as he gets out of the car his Sunday run. He seems to be wondering if the time will be good enough.

Some of the old Bump Day flavor was back with rumors swirling about deals and shared parts and information. the rain delay may have had something to do with it, but it was a fun atmosphere.

Every 100 years, a driver from France wins the pole. That’s not good news for Sebastien Bourdais.

Qualifying Weekend Tweaks

For next year I would like to see Bump Day  be a timed period, say 90 minutes, for cars not in the race to make a maximum of three attempts to make the field.

As far as the Fast Nine, it is a dinosaur concept intended to be filler when there were only 33 cars. It may be good for television, but I think an extended Bump Day as I proposed would be a better use of that brief network TV window. Let the pole winner be the fastest qualifier on Saturday. That’s your Saturday TV drama.

Limit cars to three attempts per day.  Several cars went out to use runs as practice time. If teams have exclusive use of the track, it should be for a serious run.

Other Thoughts

I was surprised that the track didn’t open for practice in the middle of Saturday afternoon.

Even in defeat, Fernando Alonso was gracious enough to come to the media center with Gil DeFerran to discuss their week.

Yesterday I think was the first time I nave ever seen Sage Karam smile. He was more at ease in interviews than I’ve seen him after his run. His best comment, referring to Hinchcliffe and the stress of the last two days, “I’m surprised James hasn’t had a heart attack yet going through this two years in a row.”

The new sealant seems to help dry the track quicker, which would be a good thing on Race Day. I just hope we never have to find out on that day.

I’ve seen some people say this year’s qualifying was a good argument for guaranteed spots. I  think it was a better argument against it. Would have great stories like Dragonspeed and Juncos with guaranteed spots? It would be hard if more full time teams join the series.

I have never seen so little attention paid to who wins the pole. I didn’t mind it. I think the pole should be decided first, like on Saturday. The true story of qualifying is in the smaller teams who make the field, sometimes at the expense of a bigger team or champion driver.

Today’s Schedule

Practice -12-2

Bronze badge holders have pit access today.

I will have a summary of the session later today.

 

 

A Weekend for the Little Guys

Above: Sage Karam celebrates making the race.

The Spirit of the Indianapolis 500 is the small teams who come here hoping to make the race in spite of huge odds. Ben Hanley and Dragonspeed comfortably made the field on Saturday. But today a new team with longer odds appeared and became the story of the week.

It was the last run for the last row. Kyle Kaiser, who had suffered a hard crash Thursday afternoon drove the rebuilt Juncos Racing car into the field, bumping two time world champion Fernando Alonso. Forty straight hours of work by the Juncos crew paid off as the backup car finally found the speed to make the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.  The celebration on pit lane was pole winning, almost race winning worthy.

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Some of the crew who worked close to 30 straight hours to get the Juncos car ready after Kaiser put the car in the race.

Fernando Alonso could only watch as his chance to return to the 500 slipped away.

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Hinchcliffe first Out

Hinchcliffe went first in the Last Row shootout and had to watch as five other drivers tried to beat his time. James Hinchcliffe’s time stood up, and he returns to the field after being bumped last year.

Sage Karam was fastest of the six and will start 31st after a tense Saturday when the car just couldn’t find speed.

But today belonged to Kaiser and Juncos.  We’ll get to him in a minute. It is fitting that we’re spending more time talking about the last row than the pole winner. It has been that way since the entry list came out. The two biggest stories of the weekend involved the two smallest teams. That is how Indy should be.

Pagenaud Wins Pole; Penske’s 18th

Simon Pagenaud is quickly becoming another title contender. He backed up his win in the Indycar Grand Prix with three laps over 230 mph. Pagenaud is beginning to return to the type of driver he was when he won the season championship in 2016.

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Simon Pagenaud is the first driver from France to win the pole since Rene Thomas in 1919. Photo by Kyle McInnes

Ed Carpenter starts second. Carpente’r teammates, Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones will line up third and fourth.  While it was a bit of a surprise not to see Carpenter on the pole, having his team starting together still shows a lot of strength. Carpenter did not seem too concerned about not winning the pole.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the fast Nine was Will Power.  The defending race winner  starts sixth after dropping four spots from his run on Saturday. Colton Herta is the fastest Honda in fifth. Sebastien Bourdais improved to seventh. Alexander Rossi dropped to ninth. I can’t recall this much movement in the Fast Nine in previous years.

Notes

As my friend George Phillips from Oilpressure pointed out, who made the race got more attention all week than who would win the pole. It was definitely like that today.

Gil de Ferran said McLaren will not be looking to buy their way into the race. “You have to earn it,” he stated. There were rumors floating today that McLaren had talked to some teams about that possibility. I will sign off for tonight with another of photo of Kyle Kaiser receiving congratulations after qualifying.

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I will have my quick thoughts on the weekend tomorrow. I guess they won’t be so quick but watch for them anyway. Thanks to everyone who followed along this weekend. m

 

 

Hinchcliffe Leads Rain Shortened Practice

James Hinchcliffe led a rain shortened practice session for the six cars still looking for a spot in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Hinchcliffe had a lap of 228.125. Sage Karam was next at 228.083.  Fernando Alonso was slowest of the five cars that were on track. at 220.009′

Kyle Kaiser did not turn any laps in the session that lasted just 20 minutes before the rain began.  The rain just returned as the track was nearly dry.

McLaren Options?

Should Alonso and McLaren not qualify, might they try to buy a ride?  There are rumors they are considering it.  I have never been a fan of drivers who don’t qualify buying their way into the field, as Michael Andretti did for Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2011.  Stay tuned.

Dragonspeed, Hanley to Focus on Indycar in 2020

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Ben Hanley (L) and Elton Julian talk about qualifying and the future of Dragonspeed

Team owner Elton Julian said plans are do as many or more races in Indycar next year.

“Commercially no other series is as viable as this one,” he said. “I’ve always been quick to step up to the next formula.”

Dragonspeed will stay involved in sports car racing, but cut back a bit’

Hanley on his first week here:

“The Rookie Orientation is amazing. It’s hard to not go over 205 but the program makes you stop and think about what you’re doing.”

Rain continues to fall and the schedule is on hold. I’m not optimistic about any running today. Should the rain stop now and not return, it will be at best 3 pm before the track dries.  I would look for the last row qualifying tomorrow before the final practice from 12-2.

I will keep everyone posted via @PitWindow on twitter and The Pit Window on Facebook for immediate weather updates and back here for any extended news.

 

 

 

IMS Sunday- Eyes on the Skies

The weather looks iffy as clouds are thickening in the southwest.  Fast Nine practice is scheduled to begin in about five minutes, but the last row cars are now practicing.

The cars still trying to make the race have a scheduled practice at 10:45 and then their qualifying session is at 12:15.  The order for the Last Row qualifications:

Hinchcliffe

Chilton

Alonso

Karam

O’Ward

Kaiser

The pressure will be more on the last three to go out as they will have a target speed to beat.

For the Fast Nine, cars go out in reverse order of yesterday’s results.  The field as it stands after yesterday:

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Back later with an update.

Last Chance for Hinch and Alonso; Weather May Determine Pole

Today is the last chance  for popular drivers James Hinchcliffe and Frenando Alonso to get into the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500.  Both have had massive crashes this week.  Hinchcliffe’s crash yesterday could not have come at a worse time. The 2016 pole winner is on the verge of missing his second straight 500 and third since 2015. he also missed a week of practice in 2014 recovering from a concussion he suffered in the first Indycar Grand Prix.

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Will they make the race?

Alonso and McLaren have struggled since he crashed on Tuesday. Electrical issues have plagued the team. Yesterday each of Alonso’s five attempts followed the same pattern- two good laps followed by a significant drop in speed on the last two.  I think McLaren came here with the attitude that they would easily get into the field. They wanted to mostly do Indy on their own. The way the series is now, that is difficult. I would have thought with their budget that they would have had a better performance despite the accident.

Other drivers looking for one of the three open grid spots are Pato O’Ward, Kyle Kaiser, Sage Karam, and Max Chilton. If Alonso and Hinchcliffe succeed in qualifying for the race, only one of these four gets in.  I think Karam makes the race. He had a difficult day yesterday. J. R. Hildebrand drove his car Friday to make sure it was okay.

The forecast isn’t looking promising at the moment. Steady rain appears to be moving in around 10 am and may last most of the day.  In that event, the last row will be determined tomorrow and the Spencer Pigot will have won the pole.

It seems that each time the Speedway os series changes the qualifying format, an important day gets rained out. It would also be a shame to have a rainout of the NBC broadcast.

Back later this morning with an update on the weather and any time adjustments.

 

 

Quick Thoughts- Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

Above: Spencer Pigot is on the provisional pole, beating Will Power by 11 ten thousandths of a second. Photo: Kyle McInnes

I find it difficult to get excited about the Fast Nine or being in the top 30 when there is still a chance to make the field tomorrow.  Granted, it’s a small chance, but today isn’t the end of the world.

The cars are behaving consistently in crashes, which I think is a good thing. It shows the safety features built in are performing correctly. The wrecks have looked very scary, but the drivers have all walked away from the cars.

The time used for the Fast Nine could be better used to give those trying to make the field multiple chances. Trying to make the last row shootout like the Fast Nine really hurts the smaller teams.

James Hinchcliffe cannot buy a break at IMS. This is his second major incident in five years.

I still think if a driver wants to requalify I think they should withdraw their time.  That alone adds drama to the day.

It was quite an accomplishment for Juncos to get their car on track and make a qualifying run. It will be a great story if Kaiser gets in the race.

Because of  the continuous qualifying attempts, teams haven’t had time for practice. They need to make a qualifying run to get some track time.

It was nice to see Pippa Mann at a press conference for a much better reason than why she attended one last year.

Ed Carpenter, who has all three drivers in the top nine for the second straight year, was asked if there will be team orders during the Fast Nine tomorrow. He answered, ” If there were team orders I would have been fastest today.”

Best Stories of the Day

Kyle Kaiser getting his car on track and making a qualifying run.

Hinchcliffe returning in his backup car. he’s still struggling to get into the top 30.

Colton Herta qualifying fifth as the fastest Honda.

Pippa Mann making the race after last year’s disappointment. Congratulations to Clauson Marshall, a new team, for earning a spot in the field.

Ben Hanley and Dragonspeed getting solidly in the race.

Head Scratchers

I expected a better showing from the Andretti cars. Alexander Rossi and Marc o Andretti were strong but no match for the Chevys.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson has performed below expectations all season. I hope they can find an answer overnight.

Dreyer and Reinbold has struggled all week. It took a strong late run from J. R. Hildebrand to get one car in the field.

 

I will have more thoughts on qualifying tomorrow morning.

 

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

Above: Spencer Pigot is on the provisional pole, beating Will Power by 11 ten thousandths of a second.

I find it difficult to get excited about the Fast Nine or being in the top 30 when there is still a chance to make the field tomorrow.  Granted, it’s a small chance, but today isn’t the end of the world.

The cars are behaving consistently in crashes, which I think is a good thing. It shows the safety features built in are performing correctly. The wrecks have looked very scary, but the drivers have all walked away from the cars.

The time used for the Fast Nine could be better used to give those trying to make the field multiple chances. Trying to make the last row shootout like the Fast Nine really hurts the smaller teams.

James Hinchcliffe cannot buy a break at IMS. This is his second major incident in five years.

I still think if a driver wants to requalify I think they should withdraw their time.  That alone adds drama to the day.

It was quite an accomplishment for Juncos to get their car on track and make a qualifying run. It will be a great story if Kaiser gets in the race.

Because of  the continuous qualifying attempts, teams haven’t had time for practice. They need to make a qualifying run to get some track time.

It was nice to see Pippa Mann at a press conference for a much better reason than why she attended one last year.

Ed Carpenter, who has all three drivers in the top nine for the second straight year, was asked if there will be team orders during the Fast Nine tomorrow. He answered, ” If there were team orders I would have been fastest today.”

Best Stories of the Day

Kyle Kaiser getting his car on track and making a qualifying run.

Hinchcliffe returning in his backup car. he’s still struggling to get into the top 30.

Colton Herta qualifying fifth as the fastest Honda.

Pippa Mann making the race after last year’s disappointment. Congratulations to Clauson Marshall, a new team, for earning a spot in the field.

Ben Hanley and Dragonspeed getting solidly in the race.

Head Scratchers

I expected a better showing from the Andretti cars. Alexander Rossi and Marc o Andretti were strong but no match for the Chevys.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson has performed below expectations all season. I hope they can find an answer overnight.

Dreyer and Reinbold has struggled all week. It took a strong late run from J. R. Hildebrand to get one car in the field.

 

I will have more thoughts on qualifying tomorrow morning.