Wow, what a first run through the field! Will Power has the current fast speed of 229.808, nearly an entire mile an hour faster than Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. That elusive 230 mile per hour lap looks like it will have to wait another year… Maybe, but more on that later.
The program has changed a bit due to the early rain delay. Main qualifying has been extended until 6:00 PM with the pole shootout starting at 6:30. Although I have no idea what the schedule for the fast nine will be, I cannot imagine that the drivers will get more than a single attempt out there.
Now that the Fast Nine has been pushed back, there is a very good chance we will see some speed increases. Remember, they are paying big points for the top five in qualifying so teams and drivers have every reason to put up a big time.
The shoot out starting at 6:30 will have a very “happy hour” feel to it. The track will be legitimately cooler as the grandstands down the front straight and into T1 will shade the track like the pre daylight savings time era. The track will have a very different look than we have been used to in years past. The cooler track and cooler air could very well push the cars into the mythical 230 range.
The urgency to lock the car into the top 24 is clearly present with the lower teams. The track has not really opened for practice as most teams in danger are turning qualifying attempt after qualifying attempt. The shuffle at the bottom of the grid has been fast and furious and at this point, it’s anyone’s guess who will be left on the outside looking in.
On a side note, if you are at home wondering if the fast nine shootout will be televised, NBCSN will be back on the air at 7, after the Preakness Post Race to show the balance of qualifying. I have to assume the fast nine will be tape delayed.
Hopefully we will be able to do an end of day wrap up at some point tonight. But there are no promises. As of RIGHT NOW, the bubble speed is 224.656 and the fast nine speed is 227.493. Drivers have less than 30 minutes to lock themselves into the field or to get a chance at the fast nine shoot out.
(programming note: poor internet access at The Speedway (shocking… I know) prevented part one of the live blog from posting. So here it is, better late than never)
Welcome to the Greatest Race Course in the World on a rainy Pole Day. There are quite a few people in the house this morning; surprising for the current conditions. The pavement is starting to dry right outside of the social media garage and jet dryers are screaming down the track at three miles an hour. The sun is starting to peak through the cloud cover and we have a jazz combo set up right outside of gasoline alley. Now the only thing we are missing are some stupid fast racecars taking to the track for the most white knuckle four laps of the season.
There has been a fair amount of press regarding the possibilities of a 230 mile per hour lap turned today; something that has not been seen at The Speedway in ten years. For some reason, I have always felt that 230 was a magic number; a mythical animal of sorts. NASCAR hit 215 before hitting the brakes headed into T1 during a tire test recently, and MotoGP has been known to hit 215 as well heading into road course T1. A 230 average speed from indycar usually means a trap speed well into the 240s.
Unfortunately, that isn’t happening today. The top speeds of the month were in the 229s… with a tow. Even if the cars are trimmed and slippery through the air, the penalty of running qualy laps alone will surely be the speed limiting factor today. The patented anotherindycarblog pole speed prediction is 227.898.
Who is your pick for the big winner in the final pole shootout? Initially I had picked Tagliani because he and his BHA team seem to really have a knack for putting down blistering qualifying laps here. However, the Honda engines have been sluggish all month but have finally started to show some speed during the morning warm-up today. The true shining star in a Honda has been young Josef Newgarden who has topped the Honda contingent during the preceding week of practice more than once. If anyone is primed to break up the Chevy party at the front, it may very well be Josef.
It’s just now after one in the afternoon and track drying seems to be going well. I felt a few sprinkles while circulating the garage area, but it was nothing that would severely hurt the drying process. That’s about it from the SUPER FANTASTIC SOCIAL MEDIA GARAGE (if you haven’t stopped in to say hi, what are you doing?) Enjoy the day of high speed insanity today whether you are here at the track, following along at work, or watching the fantastic NBCSN coverage. Check back later in the day for updates!