An Odd Ending to a Strange Day

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It’s about 4:30 pm EDT as I type this. Track officials have not called the rest of the day a washout, but I will. It is supposed to rain for another hour, and it looks as if they have “lost the track”. Once that happens, it takes roughly two hours to dry. Even if it stopped raining right now, they wouldn’t have it dry in time for the 5:50 pm gun…unless they change the rules.

This day did not hold near the suspense a normal qualifying day does. But there was still some drama – both avoidable and unavoidable. Colton Herta lost his engine in the middle of his run. He had to abandon the run and coast back into the pits. He ended up changing out his engine. He eventually went back out, but only qualified twenty-fourth.

The first car to qualify was the No.5 of Pato O’Ward. He posted an excellent four-lap average speed of 233.037 mph. Un fortunately, his joy was short-lived. By the time his qualifying photo was taken, his speed had already been bested by Rinus VeeKay. (All photos: George Phillips, Oilpressure.com)

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VeeKay’s 233.655 mph ended up being the fastest speed of the day, even though he was only the second qualifier. That proves the value of drawing a good qualifying spot on Friday evening.

Romain Grosjean qualified for his first Indianapolis 500, and will be in the Fast Twelve Qualifying tomorrow. Grosjean’s four-lap average speed of 232.201 mph. was good for ninth quick on the day.

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To no surprise, as of 4:51 pm EDT – they have now officially called it a day.

Josef Newgarden needs to count his lucky stars. He had withdrawn his time, when he entered Lane One to requalify. His teammate, Scott McLaughlin gambled by withdrawing his time and promptly dropped several positions – going from fifteenth to twenty-sixth. Newgarden had withdrawn his time good for the fourteenth starting position, and was likely headed to a similar fate as McLaughlin. While on his warmup laps, The yellow flag flew for lightning. When they closed the track for the day, Newgarden was reinstated in fourteenth.

Alexander Rossi suffered the same fate as McLaughlin, just not to the same extent. Rossi withdrew his seventeenth place start, and will end up starting twentieth in the Indianapolis 500.

While the Penske and Andretti cars managed to place only one car each into the Top-Twelve; Ed Carpenter Racing placed two of their cars into the knockout round for tomorrow, as did Arrow McLaren SP. But the biggest winner of the day was undoubtedly Chip Ganassi Racing. All five of their cars made tomorrow’s Top-Twelve, including rookie Jimmie Johnson.

In the past, the Fast Nine on Sunday produced similar results from the day before. I’m not sure that is going to be the case today. The temperature on Sunday is supposed to be much cooler than today and all week. Tomorrow is definitely going to be interesting.

I got to witness a nice moment today. Just after Jimmie Johnson qualified, he celebrated with his wife and kids, directly in front of me. I also got to witness IMS President Doug Boles congratulating the seven-time NASCAR champion.

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I’ll close with a photo I took of the Borg-Warner Trophy, as well as a couple of shots from the post-qualifying press conference.

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That will do it for me today. Practice for the Top-Twelve starts tomorrow at 12:30 pm and will be shown on Peacock. The knockout run for the pole begins at 4:00 pm on Big NBC. Mrs. Oilpressure and I will both be back here in the morning. And she will have a post here sometime after practice and before qualifying. Please check back here Sunday morning.

George Phillips

One Response to “An Odd Ending to a Strange Day”

  1. Yannick Says:

    It was surprising to see so many withdraw their time to get a 2nd attempt, only to then be slower in that very attempt. Yet, that is not a good kind of surprise. And of course, the audience wants the good kind of surprises, the feelgood stories, instead. Let’s have those today.

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