After a sleepless night (I can only imagine how it was for the drivers) my first thought in the morning was on the weather. Would we have a chance to set the field? Would the six slowest cars get their chance to run in this years Indianapolis 500? Well rain was coming. Five of the six cars were able to get in some practice laps but after the rains the track would be slightly different anyway and not sure how much those laps may have helped. Since it was raining I decided to go to church. Full disclosure- I sat in the last row and had my phone out with NBC Gold on so I could keep an eye on things. Pastor John gave a great sermon about the meek that actually applied to qualifying and I was glad I went. It seemed that we might not get a chance to get qualifying in but a break in the weather provided enough time to dry the track and get the bottom six cars out for their one last shot at getting in the field.
Until last week I was under the misconception that the bottom six would have a limited amount of time to bump their way into the field. For whatever reason two hours was stuck in my head. Last week I learned that no they would be given one last attempt to make it in. All week I thought that was not the best thing. What if James had another vibration? What is someone miscalculated gas and ran out? I was in favor of multiple attempts to earn your way back in. Danica Patrick is already receiving a lot of criticism on social media for the job she did in the broadcasting booth. I don’t agree with most of it. She did say that she was in favor of just having one attempt. Why prolong what is going to happen? If you have a problem on the track it very likely will mess up your day regardless of how many attempts you get. Hmm? I found that interesting and for me anyway the three drivers that got in are exactly who I would have chose so at least for this year I’m happy with the one chance. So who made it in and who is out?
Sage Karam was fastest today among the six drivers looking to join the field. He was in tears when they interviewed him. Sage has shown so much potential and is such a great personality. Why he isn’t in IndyCar full time I do not know. I was thrilled he made the field.
James Hinchcliffe There are not words for how disappointing it would be to have James miss the 500 again. Besides the fact that he is a fan favorite if there was ever anyone that was owed something by the Speedway it is James. The Arrow Schmidt Peterson team is a quality one and they worked hard to get James in the field. I’m so incredibly thankful the hard work paid off.
Kyle Kaiser This is the shocker. Kyle is racing in his first 500 with a new team, Juncos Racing. Everyone knew it would be a long shot for them to make it in. Kyle had a crash in practice which made their chances look even more slim. To top it off they were going against big teams like Arrow Schmidt Peterson and McLaren. Now McLaren might not have a ton of experience at Indy but they are a champion team and I imagine it was pretty intimidating. Kyle and Juncos Racing made it in the field qualifying in the 33rd position and knocking Fernando Alonso and the McLaren team out.
Fernando Alonso Well as stated Fernando and McLaren are out. They just did not have the speed to make it into the top 33. I’ve never been a fan since 2017 when Stefan Wilson was asked to give up his seat so that Fernando could race. Stefan saw what that would mean to IndyCar but honestly it meant nothing to me. I’m an IndyCar fan and want to see the IndyCar drivers advance, not drivers from other Series come over and take rides from the IndyCar guys. I still hold a bit of a grudge. However, listening to Fernando and Gil de Ferran in the press conference following qualifying made me hope that they will return next year. Gil stated that they had no intention of buying their way back in and I respect that. I hope they learn from their mistakes and come back bigger and better and preferably for the whole season. I might even be rooting for them to make the field next year.
Max Chilton Max is probably the driver I feel the worst for. I hated seeing how upset he was for not making it in. I hope the Carlin team just sees this as a chance to learn from mistakes and build a better, stronger team. I also hope it does not hurt any sponsorship they have.
Pato O’Ward Pato is young and very talented. This wasn’t a make it or break it deal for him. I know he is crushed but I believe he will bounce back from this. Pato is also on the Carlin team so this truly is heartbreaking for the team.
Before we could even let all that happened with the last row sink in the first driver for the fast nine shoot out was pulling onto the track. I was tempted to pause the TV so I could absorb all that just happened but I didn’t want to fall behind on the fast nine so I jumped right on the emotional roller coaster that is Indy 500 qualifying. A little less drama among the top nine.
Alexander Rossi I honestly was surprised he didn’t do better. He’s been fast and confident all month. I thought he had a real chance for the pole. He will start 9th.
Josef Newgarden Also expected more from Josef.
Sébastien Bourdais Honestly it’s such a testament to the Dale Coyne team to have Sébastien in the top 9. Wish he had done even better but he will be one to watch for sure.
Will Power Power was looking to add a pole at Indy to his resume. It didn’t happen this year.
Colton Herta. Strong and appears fearless. Another one to watch on race day and every future race.
Ed Jones This is Ed’s only oval this season. He did great showing that he has what it takes. The Ed Carpenter team qualified 2,3,4, quite impressive
Spencer Pigot One of the few people really hoping for more rain today. Had it rained the fast nine would have kept their order from day one and Pigot would have been on the pole. I would have been very happy with that scenario. Sadly is wasn’t to be and he will start 3rd.
Ed Carpenter Had Ed won the pole he would have become the first driver to win back to back poles twice. I have a strong feeling Ed could win this year, if not as a driver then as a team owner. I imagine it would be hard for him to win as an owner if he hasn’t first won as a driver. I’d be thrilled to see Ed drink the milk and kiss the bricks.
Simon Pagenaud This was a surprise for me in a couple ways. One I was rooting for him. I don’t normally root for the Penske guys but I just love Simon. He is so sweet and genuine. We are also being told every week that is he doesn’t win some races Roger might be looking to replace him on Team Penske. Well Simon won the GP last week and now has won the pole. Perhaps that’s enough to keep him around a bit longer. At the end of the day I often like the underdog and while Simon is hardly an underdog he might be the underdog of Team Penske. I was thrilled to see him win the pole and you could see how excited he was too.
One of the fun things about investing your time watching qualifying is hearing everyone’s stories. It changes my opinion on who I want to do well and who I’m okay with being out. The more a team struggles the more I want them in and sometimes vice versa. This was a thrilling weekend and I enjoyed every minute.
We will be heading to Indy late Friday night and can’t wait for the weekend activities and the greatest spectacle in racing. I hope to have a post or two both about the race and our weekend at the Speedway. So that just leaves one thing for now. My pick for the 500. Honestly, I have about 15-20 I’d be happy with. I want Marco Andretti to win. For so many reasons I would love to see him cross the bricks first. With a 10th place starting spot he could definitely be a contender. He is always good at Indy. Since I probably just jinxed him more than the Andretti curse already has I will also pick the Ed Carpenter team. As I said before I think anyone of them has a great chance. I know I picked four guys but I could give good reasons for about half the field to be in the winners circle so just be glad I stopped at four. If today was any indication we are going to have an amazing race day. THIS IS MAY!