Pole Day/Bump Day Wrap-up

Whether you hate this non-traditional format of qualifying or love it; you cannot deny that the last two days were very entertaining. Within one hour today (Sunday) we watched one driver experience the lowest point in his racing career; and then watched another experience one of the highest in his career.

We also saw Jack Harvey with a huge sigh of relief, but could not celebrate making the 500, because he had just bumped out his teammate (and his boss’s son).

Much was expected of Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi. But when the Firestone Fast Six was run, Rossi wasn’t even in it and Dixon and Rosenqvist were not threats for the pole. Santino Ferrucci seemed to be very disappointed with his fourth starting spot, but I don’t think many people were picking either AJ Foyt car to do much in the run for the pole.

This weekend brought lots of surprises and disappointments, but none bigger than Graham Rahal being bumped out by his teammate, who miraculously found speed after two slow runs. By the time Jack Harvey had completed his third run and he was in the race – Rahal had no time to retaliate. We’ve seen the disappointment on a driver’s face many times before, after being bumped – but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a driver crushed so much as Graham Rahal. Whether or not you are a Rahal fan, you had to feel for him at that moment.

This is a team that could be on the verge of imploding. Things were bad enough with their cars, especially their oval package. Now they have to navigate a very sticky situation between teammates and a team-owner that just watched his som get bumped by another teammate. It was all fair and square, but you know there will be incredible tension between the team when they get to Detroit in a couple of weeks.

Even after they manage the team dynamics, they have to figure out why their cars are so slow. Their oval package wasn’t good last year, so they hired a new technical director – from Formula One! How in the world is an F1 engineer going to solve the problems their cars are having on ovals. No wonder they have been so out to lunch on the two ovals this season, plus their performance on non-ovals hasn’t been great – except for the GMR Grand Prix just eight days ago.

Early this week, the money was on either Callum Ilott or RC Enerson to not make the race. Ilott will start twenty-eighth, while Enerson will start in between Ilott and Katherine Legge. Going into today, I thought it would be Dale Coyne’s Sting Ray Robb missing the race. I figured the strength of three cars going against and inexperienced driver would be too much for Robb to overcome. But give Robb credit. He kept his foot into it to make the middle of the last row – flanked by the Rahal teammates Harvey and Christian Lundgaard.

That will do it for us, for now. We need to get on the road and drive back to Nashville tonight. I will have my usual Random Thoughts post Monday morning. I’ll close with some photos that Susan took at the post-qualifying press conference. Please come back tomorrow and remember that I will still be posting every day in May through Monday May 29.

George Phillips





press group

4 Responses to “Pole Day/Bump Day Wrap-up”

  1. Matthew Lawrenson Says:

    It was quite something to see on TV. After watching (what was thought to be) Harvey’s final run I thought “That’s that then.” At that point NBC/Peacock cut to commercials.

    Now, in the UK, IndyCar on Sky Sports F1 doesn’t usually have commercials so we got the live feed and saw the 30 crew put on another set of tires and start wheeling Harvey off for another attempt. “Surely that’s not going to work? They’ve made such a big deal about engine cooling.”


  2. Mark Wick Says:

    One thing I am wondering about is whether, in addition to the track being just a bit cooler on Harvey’s final run, might it have helped that he made the run on tires that had already been used just minutes before, and therefor probably were more consistent through the run? Everyone else had started all their qualification runs on new tires that fell off significantly with each lap. Harvey’s last two lap speeds were the key to his success.

  3. Joseph Mudrak Says:

    I found it interesting that NBC hired a former NASCAR crew chief for commentary. My son said there aren’t any former Indycar crew chiefs, that they can’t afford to retire, that they die on the pit wall.

  4. OliverW Says:

    Watched qually with the volume on zero and commentary from racecontrol. Less shouty and less diffey ! Also shows the individual lap times earlier than the tv and allows you to compare the four lap times with the other drivers.

    Great entertainment.

    I think Jack will possibly be back at Shank next year although don’t know if the bad blood is sorted or not. That’s if he is in the series so could be his last 500. Am I missing the point but I don’t see the point of the last two rows participating really.

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