AJ Foyt Racing Indy 500 qualifying report
Disappointment ran deep in the AJ Foyt Racing garages this evening as both cars were bumped out of the top 24 starters for the Indianapolis 500. The troubles began this morning when the No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply car did not pass pre-qualifying tech inspection (height discrepancy) and was sent to the back of the qualifying line which meant they had to qualify in the hotter part of the day. The team fixed the minor infraction and Cunningham went out to qualify after teammate Mike Conway put the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda solidly in the race with a 223.1 four lap average speed.
Cunningham waved off after not getting up to 220mph in the first two laps of his run despite running over 225 mph in the morning practice. After getting Cunningham’s feedback, they took the No. 41 car back to the garage to add more downforce and change gearing. Word then came back that the No. 14 failed the post-qualifying inspection (2 lbs. underweight). Both teams made adjustments on the cars and re-qualified only to be bumped out in the closing minutes of Segment 1 which ended at 4 p.m.
Segment 2, or the final 90 minutes of qualifying from 4:30 – 6 p.m., was reserved for those who had qualified in the top nine in Segment 1 (eight of which were Chevrolet- powered cars). Ryan Briscoe won the pole with James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay qualifying on the front row. Fourth through sixth were Marco Andretti, Will Power and Helio Castroneves. Rookie Josef Newgarden qualified seventh (with Honda power) and was followed by Tony Kanaan and E.J. Viso.
The No. 14 and No. 41 cars will qualify tomorrow when Bump Day qualifying begins at 12 noon. With just enough cars to fill the field, the drivers will qualify and then concentrate on their race set-up. Once the field is filled (or all cars have been given an opportunity to qualify), the track will be opened to all cars for practice until the 6 p.m. gun sounds signaling the end of Bump Day.
“We shouldn’t have been out there in the first place,” Mike Conway stated. “We were in the field with a good enough time [223.160mph average speed] but it was taken away because the car was illegal [underweight] so that’s pretty much why we’re not in the race today. Luckily there aren’t enough cars here to bump us out. We’ve got to go qualify again, do a time and that’s it. Focus on race stuff. We’re lucky that there are just enough cars to fill the field because we can focus on race stuff, otherwise we’d have to qualify and be prepared to qualify again.”
When asked about his plans for tomorrow, Wade Cunningham, who must use the same engine for practice, qualifying and the race, responded, “Unfortunately we used a lot of miles today which we weren’t planning on, so tomorrow we have to get a practice run and qualifying done in as few laps as possible so we can get on full tanks and try to knock out some productive miles. At this point we’re not in the first two-thirds of the field so we’ll just take one attempt at qualifying and take what we get. I’m sure we’ll go out in the morning and the car will be great again just like it was today. I think we outsmarted ourselves this morning and then we fell down the rabbit hole.”