Thrilling Bump Day Action Sets Indy 500 Field
An incredible day of action – including a crash in practice that eliminated one potential qualifier, bumping, a mid-afternoon rain shower and a dramatic last-minute qualifying run by Marco Andretti – highlighted final “Bump Day” qualifying Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the field was set for next week’s centennial celebration Indianapolis 500.
The day began with 15 drivers vying for the final nine starting positions, and a crash in the morning practice that ended the day for last-minute substitute Patrick Carpentier. The Dragon Racing driver spun and made heavy contact with the Turn One wall in the final minutes of practice, ending the team’s efforts at making the ‘500’ this year. Rookie Ho-Pin Tung crashed Dragon’s other entry during a qualifying run on Saturday.
Qualifying began at noon EDT and, with rain threatening, the remaining nine grid positions were quickly filled, led by Paul Tracy, who will start 25th after setting the fastest qualifying run of the day at 225.939 mph. Others to quickly get in the field included Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe, in a backup car after his crash in yesterday’s practice; Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball; Pippa Mann for Conquest Racing and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing’s Ana Beatriz.
The rain arrived just before 2 p.m. EDT, with all 33 positions filled and Alex Lloyd on the “bubble” as the slowest qualifier. Danica Patrick and four others, including her Andretti Autosport teammate and Long Beach race winner Mike Conway, had yet to make the field.
Fortunately for those drivers and teams, the rain moved out and qualifying resumed at 4:45 pm. Patrick quickly put in a four-lap run of 224.861, second fastest of the day, to bump Lloyd and safely make the field. Marco Andretti was now “on the bubble” as the slowest qualifier.
Conway, Raphael Matos, Sebastian Saavedra and James Jakes all made multiple qualifying attempts, but none had the speed to make the field and bump Andretti. But in his final attempt, Lloyd recorded a lap of 223.957 to bump Andretti, who’s teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was now on the bubble.
Someone was looking over me today.
Andretti then went out less than one minute prior to the 6 p.m. gun that ends qualifying, and ran some of his fastest laps of the week, re-qualifying with a speed of 224.628 mph, but also knocking teammate Hunter-Reay from this year’s 500-mile race.
Activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resume on Friday with the traditional final practice session, known as “Carb Day”. The 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500 starts at noon EDT Sunday.
Marco Andretti (#26 Andretti Autosport Honda) Final Indianapolis 500 pole qualifier, bumped his way back into the field at 6 p.m. EDT at the expense of teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay: “That was new for me. I knew we would be hanging it out there at the end, it would be ‘stick it in the fence or stick in the show’. I feel for [teammates] Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and Mike [Conway] as well. They’re two of the best in the business. Mike at least won at Long Beach. Ryan has had terrible luck this year, he should have won a couple of races already. I was expecting it to come down to the wire. We came up with the speed at the end, but we were really risking it. Someone was looking over me today. I was lucky.”
-source: honda racing