Bump Day Drama Sets Indy 500 Field A half-dozen drivers, ranging from former series champions to Indy 500 rookies, battled throughout the final hour of "Bump Day" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, attempting to qualify for the final starting...
Bump Day Drama Sets Indy 500 Field
A half-dozen drivers, ranging from former series champions to Indy 500 rookies, battled throughout the final hour of "Bump Day" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, attempting to qualify for the final starting positions in the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500.
When the drama-filled session ended at 6 p.m., those who made the field included 2004 IndyCar Series Champion Tony Kanaan and rookie Sebastain Saavedra; while those heading home in disappointment included former Champ Car Champion Paul Tracy and former Indy Lights Champion Jay Howard.
The 2010 Indianapolis 500 field is the fifth fastest in 500, ranging in speed from Helio Castroneves's pole run of 227.990 mph set on Saturday to Hideki Mutoh's 221.963 mph run made during his "Fast Nine" qualifying shootout run yesterday.
The final day of qualifying began at noon EDT with the remaining nine positions quickly filled. Action continued throughout the day as already-qualified teams and drivers worked on their race-day setups, then ratcheted up even higher in the final hour, as qualifying runs were mixed in with bumping and strategic team decisions to withdraw previously qualified cars in an attempt to post faster speeds in the final hour.
Rookie Takuma Sato was the first driver bumped from the field, but successfully re-qualified and will start 31st. Veterans Jaques Lazier and Milka Duno were unsuccessful in their efforts to find the necessary speed to make the race.
Rookie Mario Romancini withdrew a qualifying speed of 223.8 mph to re-qualify at a faster 224.6 mph to secure the 27th starting spot, but similar decisions for Tracy and Howard saw them unable to match their previous speeds and missing the race. That put Saavedra, who had crashed his Bryan Herta Autosport Honda attempting to find more speed, and then been bumped, back in the field as the 33rd and final starter.
Activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resume on Friday with the traditional final practice session, known as "Carb Day". The 2010 Indianapolis 500 starts at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday, May 30, with live television coverage beginning at noon on ABC.
Tony Kanaan (#11 7-Eleven Andretti Autosport Honda) qualified 32nd after crashes on both Saturday and Sunday morning: "On Saturday, we had a car to be in the top nine easy. But I was a little bit too greedy and we crashed. Today was just a nightmare. I still don't know what went wrong with my [second] crash this morning. To repair the car we had to take parts off my teammates' cars, both Ryan [Hunter-Reay] and Marco [Andretti]. Then we got back out there, the track was so hot and slick it was hard to believe. The reaction from the fans today was amazing. The applause and cheers I got as we headed out of the garage area and into pit lane was incredible. I'm not an emotional guy, but I had tears in my eyes today. I probably lost five days from my life today, but I'm so happy to be in the Indianapolis 500. I think I'm more excited to be starting on the last row than the times I qualified on the front row."
Bryan Herta (owner, #29 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda) on making the race in the final moments, based on their earlier qualifying speed and after a late Bump Day crash for driver Sebastian Saavedra: "I don't think there's ever been Bump Day drama like this. [Team co-owner] Steve Newey and I put so much on the line to do this with our little team. Fate was on our side; that's the only way I can explain it. We knew we'd get bumped and have to go back out, and the car just got away from him. We gave him the best car we could, but we knew we didn't have the resources of the big team, we're just 'Two Men and a Truck Racing'. I'm sure Sebastian's feeling a lot better right now knowing he's made the Indianapolis 500."