LIVE BLOG: Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on May 16, 2014 1:56 pm


6:45 pm ET — Well, if nothing else, the final two hours of the Qualifying Day 1 had a lot of action.  The drama of cars withdrawing their times to bump their way back into the Fast 9 kept fans excited and drivers on edge.

In the end, Ryan Hunter-Reay was in and then he was out, Marco was out and then he was in, Montoya was bumped and couldn’t quite bump he way back, and nobody could top Ed Carpenter for the top spot of the day.

Of course, none of the speeds within the Fast 9 mean anything now as all the times are wiped from the board tonight and the drivers must post another time tomorrow.  Positions 1-9 and 10-33 will be determined by all drivers having a single opportunity to post a time in tomorrow’s session.

In the Fast 9, we have five Hondas and four Chevrolets representing five different teams.  Both Ed Carpenter Racing cars made it in and no Ganassi cars did.  Penske has two of his three in, and Andretti Autosport will have three bullets in their gun.  Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Hamilton Motorsport and Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing round out the fast group.

For much of the afternoon, it looked like Kurt Busch was going to have the speed to stay in the Fast 9, but the late flurry of activity ended up pushing Busch into the 10th position.  Unfortunately for Busch, he had to depart the Speedway at 2:30 to honor his NASCAR commitments in Charlotte so he was unable to defend his position in the late afternoon.  It’s certainly not a stretch to think that another late-afternoon run could have put him into the Fast 9.

In the end, I think there were nuances of the new procedure that weren’t quite fully understood going into the day — particularly with the Fast and Slow Lanes for qualified cars, or priority and non-priority lanes, if you will.  I personally did not realize that once a car is in the Fast Lane, it is not allowed to pull out of that line and must withdraw heir time unless the track is closed before reaching the head of the line.  According to Steve Wittich of, the requirement to withdraw was a suggestion of Dale Coyne to avoid teams playing games at the head of the qualifying line as has been done in years past.

My overall impression of the new qualifying format is that it worked pretty well to create drama and it worth continuing.  Whether it might need some adjustments when the entry list has more than 33 drivers going for the 33 available positions, only time will tell.  But the effort to create excitement and drama at the end of the day seemed to work pretty well.

That’s going to wrap it up for the day here.  We’ll be back for practice early tomorrow morning at 8:30.  Thanks for following along throughout the day.


4:12 pm ET — We are currently in a holding pattern as scattered sprinkles have spread over Central Indiana and put activities on hold this afternoon.  We haven’t had anything near a soaking rain but a sporadic sprinkle that’s just enough to shut the track down for the time being but not heavy enough to soak it.  If the sprinkles exit the area, the track should drive pretty quickly.

We had a flurry over activity immediately after the qualifying line ran through early this afternoon.  After a very short practice session, a number of cars attempted to requalify, led by Simon Pagenaud.  Several other drivers, include Helio, Marco, Power, Hildebrand, and many other made requalification attempts with almost everyone besting their time from earlier in the day.

Kurt Busch raised a lot of eyebrows when he threw down a 229.960 mph average.  At the time, that seemed very safe to ensure his spot in the Fast 9 session tomorrow.  As it stands, however, Busch currently sits sixth on the grid with several fast drivers ready to take shots if the track goes green again.  Among the drivers who could realistically run faster than Busch are Helio, Hinchcliffe, Andretti, Montoya, and possibly Munoz or Newgarden.  Busch has already left for Charlotte so he will not have another opportunity to defend his position.

While some darker clouds are still in the western skies, the sun has reappeared and it looks like we’ll see some more qualifying runs before too long.  We still expect to see the four cars from Chip Ganassi’s teams run again along with the above mentioned drivers that have a chance to get into the top 9.

Back with more after qualifications wrap up.
NEXT PAGE: More coverage from Day 1 of qualifications at IMS

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