Pole Day Live Blog!! (Final Update)

UPDATE, THE FINAL

Ryan Briscoe and Team Penske found their pole and I am not the least bit surprised. I wish it would have been Helio, but what are you going to do? After a really fun five hours of initial qualifying, the final shoot out for the pole was a bit… anticlimactic. I like that we get to see more pole runs, but with our current low horsepower formula I think that maybe running in the day had a slight advantage.

Once the air starts to cool, 580 or 590 horsepower or whatever the final number was after the boost increase is just not enough power to push through the denser, cooling late afternoon air. Daylight Savings Time happy hour advantage negated.

An interesting nuance of today’s qualifying session was that very few, if any, were able to pick up speed on the second lap. Most runs saw a blistering first lap and a steady loss of speed through the remainder of the run. It was also noted that if a driver went too fast on their warm up lap, then they never found the speed needed for a quality run. I’m not sure if it was the upper 80 degree heat, blistering 120+ degree track temperature or a quirk of the new tires, but you had to take care of them during every portion of a qualifying run. This could make for another layer of mystery and intrigue going into Sunday’s race.

When the smoke cleared, there was only one real shocker; the poor performance of the Target side of Chip Ganassi racing. I was able to catch a bit of qualifying on the DVR at home and it sounded like both Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti were running into over boost issues. And to add another level of confusion, the problem happened in the short chutes and not at the end of the straight. I have not formulated a theory as to why this is, but very peculiar indeed.

So the top 24 positions are set and for the first time in race history an Aussie sits on pole. I’m not sure what to expect tomorrow as there are only nine positions left to fill and there is no bumping expected to happen. But we know how Indy is so we could very well see a mythical bump day special rolled out. I’m wondering if tough love will play into the equation with Honda and/or Chevy bumping the two Lotuses from the field to show them that this is a serious game at Indy. Come prepared or don’t come at all.

On the other hand, we may very well have an hour of qualifying followed by a five hour practice session that I’m not sure many teams would be willing to participate in. The risk is just too high to take any extraneous laps before carb day especially considering all of the time teams had during the previous week to work on race setups.

That does it for day one of qualifying for the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. I have no idea when the first edition of tomorrow’s updates will go live but check back in throughout the day for more of my misguided ramblings and rants about the happenings of the day.

Eric Hall

UPDATE 4:00 PM

It is now 3:30 as of writing and the field has all either taken their first qualifying attempt, taken a wave off, or passed their initial chance at qualifying.

Sooo, my National Guard gear has yet to pan out as I envisioned when I rolled in this morning. The Panther Racing Team had an apparent rear end issue and just didn’t have the speed they were hoping for. I’ve gpt my fingers crossed that they can make it out for a second time and take an honest shot at sneaking into the fast nine.

There have been a few drivers who have taken a second shot at locking themselves into the field on day one and the 24th spot bubble has changed hands a few times but no one has really found an appreciable amount of speed to solidly place them into the safe zone.

After a rejected run due to a missing mirror weight, Tony Kanaan was able to take the track a second time and took the checkers on his second qualifying run in P6; exactly the same position he would have had on his first qualifying attempt.

Ed Carpenter took a huge hit coming out of turn four. The car turned cockpit side towards the wall and took quite a ride before coming to a rest near pit entrance. Again, the DW12 looked to perform quite well after such a hard impact and its safety acumen has been proven throughout the day today.

AJ Foyt racing’s Mike Conway was the second driver to run afoul of coming in underweight during post qualifying tech inspection. I am not sure what caused the team to fail tech inspection but with fifteen minutes left they have not taken a second attempt.

There is only one Honda in the top ten and the temperature is currently sitting at 86 degrees. With the Chevy’s preforming noticeably better in the heat, I don’t think young Jedi Newgarden will be able to steal the pole away from the Chevy contingency. My pole pick of Helio still stands and as they day has worn on I am feeling more confident of the pick.

I should be back for an evening wrap-up at some point before the sun comes up tomorrow. If you are actually on the grounds of IMS, I recommend hanging around a bit after qualifications to catch Here comes the Mummies playing on the Coca Cola stage after the checkers. It has been quite the afternoon with even more excitement to follow during the 90 minute pole shoot out.

Eric Hall

UPDATED 2:00 PM

We are back at you in the Social Media Garage. These first three hours of qualifying have been quite exciting and we have learned a few things so far. Bryan Clauson found the wall in the exit of turn one on the final lap of his qualifying run. The chassis was quickly ushered back into the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing garages and I am sure Dallara will go through the crash damage with a fine tooth comb.

I am curious what kind of report, if any, from Dallara with regards to crash damage and impact performance. The undertray actually got caught underneath the SAFER barrier; possible proof that the cars are being pushed into the ground once the cars get sideways. A very comforting realization. After two such spin cycles this weekend, the DW12 looks to be preforming superbly.

And now Oriol Servia has found the wall as well. He lost it on the exit of turn for and did not even complete his warm up lap. Servia spun unto the pitlane entrance, bouncing off of the attenuator. Once again, the driver is safe and the DW12’s baptism by fire continues. Hopefully we won’t see another smashed racecar before the day is out.

Tony Kanaan’s run was disallowed due to failing tech inspection with an underweight car. His four lap average of 225.100 would currently be good enough for a P6 starting position when I wrote this . TK must have lost too much mass after last week’s weigh-in party. Not an ideal situation for KV Racing as they struggle to find the speed they know their chassis are capable of. If there is time, TK could still have a shot to make it into the fast nine, but they will be cutting it close. (UPDATE for the UPDATE: TK was actually missing a 1.5 pound wing mirror weight… Shame Shame KV Racing)

As the temperature rises, it looks like they Chevy’s are pulling more and more ahead of the Honda contingency. Alex Tagliani and BHA didn’t quite have the speed in hand that some, including myself, hypothesized and it looks like Josef Newgarden could possibly be Honda’s only bullet by the time the 4 PM gun fires for the close of general qualifying today.

Back tracking to Pippa Mann, she said her ride was blocked due to “someone” in INDYCAR closing the entry list. We are starting to hear mixed reports that the field is NOT actually closed and we may in fact still see a bump day special rolled out. Time will tell, but there is more than just a small amount of confusion going around regarding bump day car counts. Tension is definitely high and with time running out to get in the show on day one, it should be.

Eric Hall

UPDATED 11:00 AM

Anotherindycarblog has arrived at the Greatest Race course in the world! Just a few quick updates before the day starts to heat up. I will be in and out of the Social Media Garage during the day; make sure you visit us and sign in for a chance at greatness, prizes and twitter immortality.

Speeds on fast Friday were…fast! The draft was strong and lap times were at a more reasonable average compared to the previous six days of practice. The trend continued into this morning two hour practice session which saw the 227 barrier broken again.

Day 7, 68F – Top 5: Chevy 4/1, Top 10: Chevy 8/2, Top 15: Chevy 10/5

-Fastest Chevy: 227.540

-Fastest Honda: 226.224

Day 8, 73F – Top 5: Chevy 4/1, Top 10: Chevy 6/4, Top 15: Chevy 9/6

-Fastest Chevy: 227.744

-Fastest Honda: 225.846

The trend from the past few days has continued with Chevy crushing Honda in the top 5 results. Although Chevy led the top ten and fifteen tally, the speeds were much closer. I still have a feeling that the top and of the grid will be tilted twords the Chevy camp.

Word on the street BHA and Penske have used front wing wickers all week and including this mornings practice. This could mean doom for anyone with an outside shot at pole. The sluggish speed from the Penske camp throughout the week may not have been a true reflection of what they are capable of. I still stand by my pole pick of Helio Castroveves, but we know that BHA and Alex Tagliani know their way around IMS so things are still very interesting.

Pippa Mann stopped in to the Social Media Garage this morning and answered more than a few questions from the crowd and she is visibly upset from the unfortunate news that she will not have a shot in a bump day special. Say what you will about the British driver, but she is an absolute trooper. You could see how crushed she was but still put a happy face on and stuck it out for about 20 minutes.

Qualifying is starting and I hear Tony Kanaan turning laps out there so I will be back with you later in the afternoon with more ramblings and opinions. I’m wearing my Panther Racing gear in hopes that it will help JR Hildebrand miraculously find the pole so cross your fingers for them. If you are at home, make sure you fire up timing and scoring and watch the video feed. We are in for a hectic and exciting day!

Eric Hall

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