Qualifying Day One Notes

If you watched Saturday’s qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, you know that the main story of the day was the horrifying crash involving Sébastien Bourdais. What was horrifying was his approach to the wall. His car went squirrelly and when he tried to correct by turning right – the front-end bit and he went pretty much straight into the wall. Thanks goodness for the SAFER barrier which certainly did its job. After the initial hit, the car flipped and Bourdais was a helpless passenger at that point.

The Holmatro Safety Team was on the scene immediately. It took a while to extricate Bourdais out of the car. He was reportedly complaining about pain in his lower extremities and was transported to Methodist hospital awake and alert.

The latest information from IMS is that Bourdais was diagnosed with multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip. He will undergo surgery on his pelvis this evening at Methodist Hospital.

After his crash, this place fell silent. We went for the longest time without seeing a replay. When we did, everyone gasped and feared the worst. Not only did we see it, the drivers in line waiting to go saw it also. I felt for Alexander Rossi, he was positioned next in line waiting to go out when the crash happened. He had to sit there watching the replay and waiting for the SAFER barrier to be repaired. I happened to be standing there and you could sense his uneasiness.


On another note, there were thirty-one cars qualified today. Not only did the car of Sébastien Bourdais not qualify, but neither did the car of Zach Veach. The slowest qualifier was the first qualifier – Pippa Mann. She may or may not have brushed the wall on her first lap, which was a 225.773 mph. It was downhill from there. Her four-lap average was a 219.282. The low speed locked Pippa in for the back row with Zach Veach and whoever drives the No.18 car for Dale Coyne.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Fast Nine is set for the run for the pole tomorrow. Ed Carpenter was the fastest for the day with a four-lap average of 230.468 mph. Joining Carpenter in the Fast Nine are Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon, JR Hildebrand, Alexander Rossi, Will Power, Fernando Alonso, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti. For those keeping score, that’s three Chevys and six Hondas in the Fast Nine.

Just missing out on the Fast Nine was Ed Jones, the Dale Coyne Racing teammate to Sébastien Bourdais and Pippa Mann. He has been sort of an unsung hero. He has quietly been putting together a strong rookie season and now a very solid Month of May. Not many people are paying attention to them, but they should.

Of course, the stir that everyone was talking about before the Bourdais accident was Fernando Alonso. Considering how little time he has in these cars and on an oval, he was impressive. I have tried to downplay Alonso here, simply because there are going to be thirty-two other drivers in this race. But not only am I impressed with his driving ability, I am equally impressed with his demeanor. He is not arrogant or aloof with fans or in press conferences. He seems to respect everything about this place and feels genuinely honored to be here.


There have been whispers going around as to who might be in the car for Coyne. I’ve heard Stephan Wilson, who would be a nice story – but I’m not sure I’d go that direction this late in the game with him having absolutely no practice. I’ve also heard the names Tristan Vautier and Alex Tagliani. Either of those choices make sense to me. Vautier drove for Coyne last year and Tagliani is extremely experienced. A little known fact about Tagliani is that he has led the last six Indianapolis 500’s. Wilson is the sentimental choice with the people I’ve spoken with, but if it was my choice – I’d go with one of the other two, just based on experience.

We will find out soon enough. We will be back here tomorrow morning. The first practice starts at noon, with qualifying for grid positions and the Fast Nine later n the day. Please keep Sébastien Bourdais in your prayers. I’ve been coming to this place a long time and that was one of the more dramatic crashes I’ve seen in quite a while. Hopefully, we’re done with those for the rest of the month.

Check back tomorrow.

George Phillips

6 Responses to “Qualifying Day One Notes”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    Are they locking drivers into the back row this year? They did not do that last year.

    • tonelok Says:

      That is the problem. It changes every year. It is difficult to keep up with the brain trusts that run this thing every year. It seems like the only thing consistent about Indy is inconsistency.

  2. SkipinSC Says:

    ABC did not indicate that the back row was locked. I was assuming that since everyone was allowed only 1 attempt, the only thing locked would be the fast 9.

  3. It is my understanding that it is locked. However, I’ve been wrong before.

  4. Brian Feely Says:

    Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the most challenging race track in the world. Incredible speed all the way around. Here’s praying for a full and speedy recovery for Bourdais. I would like to see Wilson get a shot at making the INDY 500 field. He is on a mission. …. Thank you for the first hand reporting. Name: Brian Feely

  5. Yannick Says:

    Here’s wishing Sebastien Bourdais a full and speedy recovery.

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