Third time is the charm for Jakes who qualified 20th for the Indy 500; Rahal and Jourdain Jr. will be “Bump Day” qualifiers despite Rahal setting the fourth fastest time in the morning practice
OVERALL: Rahal was the first RLL driver to make a qualifying attempt and logged a four lap average of speed of 225.140 mph. Jakes was next from the team and set a four lap average of 225.401 mph but it was later disqualified due to being 0.5 lbs. under the minimum weight. Jourdain Jr. made an attempt and had a 4-lap average of 220.471 which did not make the top 24. When Jakes went back out for his second attempt, Rahal was the 24th car and on the “bubble” of the cars that would earn starting spots today so when Jakes ran a 4-lap average of 225.153 mph, he narrowly bumped Rahal. Rahal went out for a second attempt later but his race car was slower with each lap and wasn’t fast enough for the top-24. Jakes was later bumped by Townsend Bell and went on to make his third qualifying attempt with five minutes to go in the session. His 4-lap average of 225.809 mph earned him a 20th place qualifying spot. Jourdain Jr. went out for a second attempt as the gun went off but his 4-lap average of 218.329 mph was not fast enough. Once qualifying was complete, it was determined that the No. 15 and No. 17 race cars would each have engine changes performed tonight.
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I qualified on the second day a couple of years ago and my best finish came from my worst starting spot (29). I’m pretty frustrated to not get in but what do you do? We’re fighting some uphill battles and we just can’t overcome them so it’s not worth trying at this point. We will just come back out tomorrow and start over.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his sixth Indy 500. He ran in the top-five in four of his five previous races here. In 2008, with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, he was the highest Indy 500 starter of the Champ Car transitioning teams with his 13th place qualifying effort but made contact on L36 after driving high to avoid the slower car of Lloyd and retired in 33rd place. He qualified fourth for NHLR in the 2009 Indy 500 but made contact on L56 while fifth and retired in 31st. In 2010, he competed for his father’s team – RLL – for the first time in an Indy car. He qualified seventh and ran as high as second but a blocking penalty on L188/200 dropped him from third to a 12th place finish. He qualified 29th with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011 and earned his best finish at Indy to date of third place after he led six laps. In 2012, he qualified 12th, ran as high as third and finished 13th for SCCGR… This is Rahal’s first full season at RLL, sixth in the IZOD IndyCar Series and seventh in a top open wheel racing series (CCWS 2007)... His best finish this season is second place in Long Beach and best start is 11th -- also in Long Beach… He is 14th in the series point standings with 74.
JAMES JAKES, No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “First of all I would like to say thanks to the guys, without these guys it wouldn’t have been possible. The Acorn Stairlifts crew got it right there at the end and we made a couple of slight setup changes there at the end that will hopefully help Graham tomorrow. We’ve been quick all day. Among the quickest of the Honda’s and we just haven’t been able to show it. Obviously the guys made a mistake on the first run and we were disqualified but I’m not holding that against them. I would be upset if they weren’t pushing the limit. Now we can work on the race setup tomorrow and help the other two boys get in. (On the third attempt:) It was then or never. On the first run, the car wasn’t great and I had to lift through one of the corners so I knew that if we got the car balanced right it would be okay, and we did. We made a couple of changes and it was great and I knew it from the out lap. I thought ‘This could be a good run.’ The car was consistent and it’s been great all week. I think we’ve got a good race car so I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his second race here. He qualified 17th and finished 15th in 2012. In 2011, he attempted to qualify but the car was not fast enough. Both events were with Dale Coyne Racing… Jakes is competing in his third season in the IndyCar Series and first with RLL. In 31 Indy car starts with Dale Coyne Racing from 2011-2012, his best finish was eighth at Toronto and series-best start of eighth was at Motegi… His best start to date this season is 11th at Barber and best finish is 12th at Long Beach although he had the potential to finish higher in each race… Is ranked 22nd in series standings with 53 points.
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR, No. 17 Office Depot Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We tried some things in the morning practice. The balance in the car wasn’t perfect but it was okay. We felt there was a 225 mph lap there. We made some extremely small adjustments for qualifying. The track conditions were different but it was so hard to know exactly what they were. The car was so different, there was huge understeer and we made some adjustments in the car and it got so loose that I had to catch it many times. It was very difficult. We just made a qualifying run to check things; it was just practice but we had to do it because everyone was in line and we had to check some things in the car. It’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway, its tough for everybody. Sometimes for some people, sometimes for others and today it was us. Tomorrow is a new day. We have to put the car in the show. I have all the confidence in the world in Bruno (Couprie, engineer) and the guys, that we will be good.”
FAST FACTS: Jourdain is making his third attempt at the Indy 500 and second with RLL… His No. 17 Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry is sponsored by Office Depot Mexico with associate sponsorship from Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi… He started 22nd in his second Indianapolis 500 race in 2012 and finished 19th with RLL. He was called into a closed pit then penalized with a drive-through which put him one lap down after he ran in the top half of the field mid-race. He qualified eighth and finished 13th in 1996. When he participated in the 2012 Indy 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the site of his first laps behind the wheel of an Indy car since 2004… He made 152 starts in the CART/Champ Car World Series and three in the IRL/IndyCar Series (1996/97 season) between 1996-2004… His highest finish in the IRL/IndyCar Series is second place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1996 and he earned two wins in CART/CCWS in 2003 at Montreal and Milwaukee while driving for Team Rahal… With support from Ford Motor Company, he moved to NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from 2005-2008 and also competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2006. Since then, he competed in various rally and sports car series.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing