LIVE BLOG: Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

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


1:36 pm ET — The qualifying line has run through and two drivers have eclipsed the 230 mph mark.  Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first drivers to hit that mark since 2003.  Currently on the outside of the front row is the impressive rookie Jack Hawksworth of Bryan Herta Autosport.  Once again, Jack continues to impress, as he has all season long, and seems to have fully shaken off any trepidation following Wednesday’s crash.

On the other end of the spectrum, the initial qualifying efforts of all four Ganassi cars can be considered nothing short of disappointing.  In fact, Tony Kanaan called his run “unacceptable.”  The four-car team is currently led by Charlie Kimball, whose 228.710 mph average was good for only 16th on the provisional grid.  Teammate Scott Dixon currently sits 19th, Kanaan 24th, and Briscoe 30th.  Generally those teams would be content having posted a speed good enough to guarantee themselves a spot in the race, but with so many points on the line today, the Ganassi team will be scrambling this afternoon to find more speed and requalify later this afternoon.

I expect the practice session to be busy as teams will seek to gain even the slightest edge.  The entire field is very tightly bunched, so finding even one full mph could improve your starting position by three or four rows.


12:02 pm ET — The morning practice session ran clean with no incidents.  A couple yellow flags for debris were scattered through the session and another for a half spin by Carlos Huertas without contact slowed the festivities momentarily.  While the track was green, speeds were high, and Marco Andretti used a big tow to post a lap at over 232.5 mph.

Early in the qualifying session after 13 cars have qualified, Ed Carpenter, who sat out the morning practice session, leads the way with a four-lap average of 230.114 mph, the first official qualification run over 230 mph since 2003.  Neither of the two Ganassi drivers that have qualified (Briscoe and Dixon) have posted speeds that seem likely to stay within the Fast 9.

The crowd here today appears to be light, to put it nicely.  In the paddock seating area on the outside of the track near the start-finish line, a very generous estimate of fans is about 2,000 people.  It does seem a few more fans are trickling in but it’s still quite sparse.  Turns 1 and 4 don’t look too filled in either.  If the goal of the new qualifying format was to increase the crowd on Sunday without detracting from Saturday, it doesn’t seem yet to have been effective.

Back with more a bit later after the qualifying line runs through.


8:54 am ET — I have been coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1988, and this is the coldest days I can ever remember here.  Yes, it is actually colder than Race Day in 1992, though the winds are pretty calm today so the chill doesn’t have quite the bite as that day did.  Nonetheless, the very cold temperatures could have an impact on today’s festivities if drivers get a bit impatient and push too hard before the tires come up to temperature.

Speaking of temperatures, at last check, the ambient temperature was 45 degrees while the track temp was 53.  Firestone engineers have said they want to see those combined temperatures above 100 degrees before cars get on track.  Practice has already been delayed 54 minutes, but we haven’t been given any official indication of when cars will be allowed on track or what the actually requirement is to allow them to run.

As you’d expect, there isn’t much actually happening right now around the Speedway.  The cars for the first practice session are on pit lane and most of the drivers are actually strapped in (probably just to stay warm).  I can just hear some of the cars being warmed up so the green flag may be coming out soon as the sun has started to peak over the Tower and Pit Terrace grandstands.

We’ll be back with more after practice.

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