The rain stayed away just long enough on Saturday for the 22 IndyCar drivers and the 24 Firestone Indy Lights drivers to have a couple rounds of practice and qualify their machines for the two races on Sunday. Getting the races in might be a challenge. Severe weather moved into the area not long after the qualification and the same front will still be in the area on race day. Expectations are for dry, but windy weather until mid to late afternoon. The Indy Lights race will likely be run, but the IndyCar race being run in full is less likely.
The Firestone IndyLights qualifying saw 2005 series champion, Wade Cunningham set the pole with Sebastian Saavedra right next to him, and Ana (Bia) Beatriz right behind him. Last year’s winner, J.R. Hildebrand completes the 2nd row and very likely could repeat last year’s performance if the rain holds off long enough.
The IndyCar qualifying saw some major surprises and some familiar performances. Kansas has been a good track for Danica, having set the pole here in 2005 and many good showings since. This year, she put her car on the grid ahead of all of her teammates. Helio and Dario were both very fast, but they were both penalized for driving below the white line and were sent to the back of the grid. They’ll have company, though. E.J. Viso failed tech inspection and was also sent back. A surprisingly good qualifier was Milka Duno. Yes, Milka. She qualified in P12 just ahead of Hideki Mutoh, and just behind Sarah Fisher. This is Sarah’s first race of the season, and her P11 qualifying run was a great start to the season. I for one, am hoping to see her climb her way up the grid during the race. Graham Rahal stunned everyone by putting his #02 car on pole by a significant margin over Helio. With both Dario and Helio being penalized, Graham’s teammate Robert “Rapid Robert” Doornbos is beside him on the front row. It was a good day for the NHL team.
Here are some photos from the day’s practice and qualification. Enjoy, and come back tomorrow. We’ll have a lot more photos from race day.