As The Speedway sits quietly after two days of non-stop running, Michel Jourdain packs up to head home after a heartbreaking afternoon. The #17 crew called off a last minute bonsai run after an entire day of parts changes, driver swaps and nerves of steel. The car simply did not have the speed. The tub is purportedly the same one Takuma Sato wadded up on the final lap of the 2012 500 (it has been discovered that the Sato tub was NOT in use by Jourdain this weekend). Graham Rahal took the wheel for five laps early in the afternoon and confirmed there was something wrong very deep within the machine.
Even though there was no final qualifying attempt, the tension was high all afternoon. The drivers at the tail end of the field sat in qualifying mode once the completed their runs before one PM until the track closed for the day at six. No one on these teams were able to relax or put a race setup on the car and do some worthwhile practicing with the rest of the field. It was qualifying mode, do or die, all afternoon long.
After the field was filled, most locked in teams took to the track for some race simulation work. At one point, it looked like there was an actual race going on as drivers jockeyed for position and generally mixed it up in a way totally opposite to the objective for the day: bring it home in one piece. The only other incident besides Connor Daly’s smash yesterday was a slight brush from Will Power exiting T4 very late in the afternoon. In terms of crash damage, it was a remarkably clean weekend.
I headed home a bit early from The Speedway today and was able to catch the final hour of the practice telecast. The coverage was remarkable, and Will Buxton looked to be having quite the good time during his first trip to Indianapolis. It was truly unfortunate that NBCSN’s time was cut a bit short on coverage because they did a remarkable job. The storylines were well explained, the technical insight was top notch and the camera work was of Formula One world feed quality.
With that, we conclude out coverage of the most stress filled day in motorsports. Enjoy the few days of peace before the weekend kicks off on Friday morning with the final hour of practice on Carb Day. Once again, the field looks incredibly tough. Filled with high quality veterans and skilled rookies, there is really not a single wasted seat.
Of course we didn’t even get to see some of the beloved Indy specialists that have graced the bricks over the years. But that’s how racing evolves and moves forward. Save for Rick Mears, what driver actually retires? They fade from hero, to and Indy specialist to obscurity before finally coming back as a guest and taking in the grandeur of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from an entirely different perspective.
In less than one week the twin checkers will have waved for the 2013 Indianapolis 500. The week before a race fans Christmas is upon us; revel in what was witnessed this weekend and come back with batteries recharged for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Ed freaking Carpenter! I think that’s all that need to be said regarding the on track activity yesterday. It was a banner day for the USAC contingent as one of their own, and an Indiana boy to boot, put himself on pole at the greatest race in the world. We have to go back 15 years to the early IRL to find the last USAC stalwarts to grab pole. Billy Boat in 1998 and Tony Stewart in 1996, although the link from USAC front engine dirt cars to rear engine formula cars has been lost for a very long time, it was nice to see a grad up top.
The TV coverage has been a huge bone of contention throughout the entire weekend. It started at six PM last night when NBCSN chose to air the Preakness Stakes post-race show in lieu of the fast nine shootout from IMS. In an unfortunate turn of events, when NBCSN rejoined, they did so live causing TV viewers to miss the first five or six cars from the shootout. I understand the need to preempt certain events, but it would have been very nice if the broadcast could have been shown slightly delayed. Unfortunate.
The troubles continued today when the first 15 or 20 minutes of the TV broadcast were preempted again. This time it was hockey overtime that took precedence over indycar racing. Fortunately, there wasn’t much that was missed by the TV viewers in the 20 minutes of a six hour broadcast. On one hand, it is frustrating to be shown exactly where indycar sits in the sports hierarchy of NBC. Even more unfortunate, I don’t think it’s a shock to anyone that this is the case. But this is Indy that should count for something.
On the other hand, this shows exactly why you need to be here and in person to experience the awesomeness that is qualifying at Indianapolis. If everyone came out who was peeved by missing about an hour of qualys in the 12 hours of running, the place would be packed! We want those big huge bump day and pole day crowds back, time to make plans to meet in Indy in 2014.
As of one PM, the field for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 has been filled with a run from Katherine Legge. Michel Jourdain is on the outside looking in but has a bit under five hours to bump his way into the field. The final 30 minutes of bump day are the most intense and emotional minutes of the entire year. Someone’s hopes and dreams will be crushed today when the gun goes off at six and qualifying for 2013 closes. Tears of joy and heartbreak will be seen shortly thereafter and one driver will pack his stuff up and head home.
It’s another hot day at The Speedway today so the track should be greasy and difficult to keep up with throughout the day. Look for Bump Day to commence in earnest shortly after the top of the five o clock hour. If you’re out at The Speedway, make sure to stop in at the Social Media Garage and say hi; we have a live track feed, shade, sims and timing and scoring in the house.
Check back later in the day for another update! And as always, thank you for reading!