Bump Day has come and gone and the field of 33 is set for the 93rd installment of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on this the 100th anniversary of the opening of the track in 1909. As if to honor the heady history of the venue, today’s on track action was superb.
As it relates to qualifying, today’s weather was the best we have seen yet. Bright and sunny, low wind and mild temperatures allowed for the track to become predictably faster as the day went on.
Action started at noon when Nelson Philippe withdrew his 218.032 mph from the bubble spot and requalified. He put in a 220.754 mph and put himself solidly into the field. And the trend didn’t stop there as Milka Duno also withdrew her now bubble time and posted a 221.106 mph using teammate Davey Hamilton’s setup, which she also put her in the show. Third out today was Bruno Junqueira, who had next to no time in his newly announced ride with Conquest and was still able to put in a 221.115 mph. An amazing effort! But that was it for the noon hour qualification attempts.
Around 4:00pm, the action started to heat up once again as Ryan Hunter-Reay and then Mike Conway withdrew their times to make another go at it since it was apparent that the track was much quicker than Saturday, and getting better still. In a superb reversal of fortune, Conway put in a whopper at 221.417 mph again using Davey Hamilton’s setup, at the time the fastest of the day. But Huner-Reay was only able to put in a 220.413 which would prove to be too slow for comfort.
John Andretti struggled with his car all day even though he was using Davey Hamilton’s setup (notice the trend), waving off his first attempt. But at 4:30pm EJ Viso felt the bubble was too close for comfort and withdrew his time to make his first and only attempt of the day, putting up a 221.164 mph and solidifying their start next Sunday.
The track went green for practice from 4:30 on until about 5:30 allowing for those on the outside looking in to make last adjustments for happy hour… errr…. half-hour.
Tomas Scheckter removed himself from the bubble and put up a new time of 221.496, the fastest time of the day. The next three attempts from John Andretti, Buddy Lazier and Stanton Barrett were waved off, as they did not have quick enough pace to make it in the field.
John Andretti made one last go and was able to put up a 221.316 mph to place himself into the field and put Ryan Hunter-Reay out. And the final gun went off as Ryan was putting up his last attempt. He was just barely able to bump Alex Tagliani out of the field.
A sad day indeed for Alex Tagliani who saw everyone in front of him withdraw their times and put fate in their own hands, instead of relying on the misfortune of others. Alex clearly had the speed to get into the field, as evidenced by his 221’s in practice today, but the didn’t think they would get bumped. When Scheckter and Andretti put up good times, it left him vulnerable to a last ditch effort by Ryan Hunter-Reay and no time left for recourse.
Unfortunately for Bruno Junquiera, who valiantly put a car into the show with hardly any practice whatsoever, Conquest has elected to pull Bruno out of the #36 car for the race and put Tagliani in his place since Tags is their primary regular season driver.
Also a sad day for Buddy Lazier. Buddy was able to put the Hemelgarn/Johnson car into the field last year on Bump Day, but they just couldn’t find the speed. An inglorious end to this past Indy 500 champion’s attempt.
Lastly, for Stanton Barrett, a rather fitting end to his May experience at Indy. Stanton has been at the very bottom of the timecharts all month, even though he was on the full 2-week engine program. With rumors that Team 3G have lost their primary sponsor, it may be the last time we see Stanton with the IndyCar series. While Marty Roth had all the cash in the world to keep him in the series and Milka Duno has a sweet sponsorship arrangement with her countries’ nationalized oil company keeping her on track, Stanton did not have that luxury to allow him time to develop and learn these cars. Stanton came into the series with hardly any road course experience and almost no formula car experience. Maybe it would have been wiser for his sponsors to force him to go through Indy Lights before attempting something that he clearly wasn’t qualified for.
Anyway, congratulations to our last row. Enjoy your respective 31, 32 & 33 cent checks at the last row party. Don’t spend it all in one place.
Here is your starting grid for the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500:
1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 224.864
2. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 224.083
3. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 224.010
4. (02) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 223.954
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 223.867
6. (11T) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 223.612
7. (5) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 223.331
8. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 223.114
9. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 223.028
10. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 222.882
11. (99) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 222.622
12. (2) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 223.429
13. (15) Paul Tracy, Dallara-Honda, 223.111
14. (14) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 223.054
15. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 222.903
16. (27) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 222.805
17. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 222.780
18. (4) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 222.777
19. (41) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 222.586
20. (16) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 222.162
21. (67) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 222.082
22. (44) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 221.956
23. (06T) Robert Doornbos, Dallara-Honda, 221.692
24. (8) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 221.195
25. (17) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 220.984
26. (19) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 221.496
27. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 221.417
28. (43) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 221.316
29. (13) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 221.164
30. (36) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 221.115 (Bruno Junqueira qualified this car)
31. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 221.106
32. (00) Nelson Philippe, Dallara-Honda, 220.754
33. (21T) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 220.597