Newman/Haas/Lanigan rookie Robert Doornbos was the fastest of eleven qualifiers on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indianapolis 500. Doornbos posted a four-lap average speed of 222.162 mph to take the twenty-third spot on the 33 car grid, in the middle of the eighth row of three.
"I missed the first two qualifying days," said the Dutchman of his first experience at the Brickyard, "and then there is a lot of pressure on these four laps to make the show. The race car is good, but if you're not in the show, you don't need the race car. I am very happy and proud to be here."
KV Racing Technology's Townsend Bell sped to a ten-mile qualifying average of 221.195 mph to take the outside spot on the 8th row. Bell was also quickest in morning open practice, which was delayed by forty-minutes in starting due to rain. Bell's best lap in pre-qualifying practice of 223.560 mph bested a 222.746 mph effort by Rahal Letterman's Oriol Servia and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe (221.789 mph) for the day.
"I feel like I can drive the car around the conditions, which is nice," Bell said, "rather than being a victim of the conditions. I had the ability to do a little bit with the wheel to help compensate for the wind, and that made a consistent run."
The provisional field finds Servia on the inside of the ninth row with an average qualifying speed of 220.984 mph. Conquest Racing's Alex Tagliani qualified twenty-sixth and Tomas Scheckter was 27th in his last minute ride with Dale Coyne Racing.
The next to last row holds rookie Mike Conway in one of the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing cars, HVM Racing's EJ Viso, and Ryan Hunter-Reay for Vision Racing. Handing team owner Richard Petty his first 500 start, for now, was John Andretti, DRR's Milka Duno and Nelson Phillipe in one of he HVM Racing IndyCars complete the eleventh row.
Phillipe's 218.032 mph average was good enough to withstand a late challenge by another rookie, Stanton Barrett, who toured the circuit as time for the day ran out.
Sunday Bump Day brings qualifications to an end as competitors for the May 24th race try to nudge each other out of the field from Noon until 6PM EDT to form the official 93rd running of the May classic starting lineup.