IRL: Behind the Barriers: Indy Pole day

Robby Gordon was happy on Friday afternoon after learning his team had drawn a low qualifying position for both cars, ensuring the multitalented driver would make it to Richmond, Va. in time to start in Saturday evening's NASCAR Nextel Cup race.

Robby Gordon was happy on Friday afternoon after learning his team had drawn a low qualifying position for both cars, ensuring the multitalented driver would make it to Richmond, Va. in time to start in Saturday evening's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. Although Gordon's primary car was slated to qualify second, Gordon decided to qualify in his backup car, which had run a best lap of 219.034 mph on May 12. On the second day of practice, Gordon used the primary to lap the Speedway at 218.446 mph, then spent the remainder of the event focusing on the backup.

Despite running 218.245 mph in the pre-qualifying practice session, Gordon was able to muster four qualifying laps averaging 216.522 mph and will start 18th. "I'm very disappointed," said Gordon, who started on the front row last year. "I thought we'd run much better than that. The car got really tight. I just couldn't hold it open in turn one. If we didn't have to leave (for Richmond), we would have waved it off, for sure."

Gordon left the Speedway immediately after his qualifying run.

***

Three drivers suffered mishaps during qualifying with Bryan Herta suffering abrasions to his right foot and leg after making contact with the turn one wall. "We tried to free the car up" said Herta. We had a little bit of understeer, and I think I went a little too far. I went into turn one and the back just gave up." Andretti Green Racing team co-owner Michael Andretti didn't blame Herta. "We just made the car too neutral for him. It wasn't really his fault. We just set the car up too loose."

Herta was treated and released from the infield care center but was not cleared to drive. His status will be re-evaluated on Sunday.

Felipe Giaffone and Alex Barron both made contact with the turn one wall during qualifying but neither driver was injured.

***

In the pre-qualifying practice session, Tony Kanaan bumped the fastest lap of the event up to 223.224 mph. Three drivers, including Roger Yasukawa and Adrian Fernandez ran faster the event's previous best (222.668 mph), set by Kanaan on Wednesday. To run over 223, Kanaan, who qualified at 221.2 mph, was simulating a qualifying run in practice, when he enjoyed a tow from Marty Roth.

***

Bruno Junqueira found over three miles an hour overnight, practicing today at 222.576 mph. Through the first week of practice, the Brazilian couldn't break the 219 mph barrier in either the primary or backup cars. In qualifying, Junqueira averaged 221.379 mph and will start on the inside of the second row. "We didn't get to work on our qualifying setup until this morning. The rain yesterday really hurt us because that is when we planned to work on it. We weren't even in the top 20 most of the week. The wasn't even ideal, it was really loose during my qualifying run."

***

Buddy Rice's pole position marks the first time a numbered 15 has taken the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

***

Honda has now won the pole position in every IRL race this season. Honda powered cars took eight of the top ten starting spots, including the first seven.

***

Kosuke Matsuura, who topped the speed charts on May 11 with a lap at 221.857 mph, was the fastest rookie in first day qualifications. Matsuura qualified 9th at an average speed of 220.740 mph.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Felipe Giaffone , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Buddy Rice , Marty Roth , Kosuke Matsuura