Pole Day Fiasco
This morning in practice 1, Ed Carpenter lost control of his Chevy powered IndyCar and crashed hard into the turn 2 wall. There was damage done to the safer barrier and track officials began fixing the issue. That is when the fiasco
began. All the drivers were in their cars on pit road waiting for the green light. After twenty minutes of waiting, officials finally told the teams that practice 2 was being cancelled and that repairs to the track would take 90 minutes.
As I walked the garage area, teams did not know what was going on. Communication from IndyCar was slow or not happening at all. IndyCar was in the process of reviewing the data, video, etc from Carpenter’s crash. Qualifying was suppose to start at 10:00am and when there was no movement from the garage area, everyone began to realize qualifying had been delayed. Rumors started circulating that IndyCar was going to mandate changes to the qualifying package due to Carpenter’s car getting into the catch fence. At the time no on knew what was happening. I ran into Alex Tagliani and he summed the issue up from the driver’s perspective. “All kinds of changes are possible, including lowering the boost. I just want to get out there and qualify.”
This all led to team meetings in the IndyCar trailer, Team Chevy and Honda Racing executives were there as well. The teams were told of IndyCar’s decision and revised the day’s schedule. There was then a press conference in the media room with Mark Miles and Derrick Walker. Mark Miles started with this quote: “This morning we saw a third car get into the wall, turn backward and lift into the air. We’ve said all along we want to go faster, but we want to do so safely. As a precautionary measure, IndyCar will require that the cars qualify today in the same aero setup that they will run in the Indianapolis 500 next weekend. Also, for today, boost levels will return to race conditions. Given these changes, we have elected not to award points for today’s qualifications.” Curt Cavin of the Indy Star asked a question about why Honda has to abide by these rule changes when only Chevy cars have had the problem of getting airborne. Walker said “Just because Honda hasn’t had an issue doesn’t mean they won’t. You can’t focus on one manufacturer. Safety has to be the overriding concern.” Miles followed up with “If we aren’t certain what’s causing this, we can’t say it’s a Chevy or Honda problem.”
Needless to say it’s been an interesting and different pole day. The fans have been restless and so have the driver’s. I will say the driver’s made the best out of a bad situation. Many came out of the garage area and signed autographs and took pictures with fans. As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the driver’s, these changes plus the fact that they only get one qualifying attempt, just adds to it. Hang on to see how this plays out today. Qualifying starts at 3:15pm. The cars are on pit lane for group 1 to get a 30 minute practice session. Group 2 goes out at 2:00 for practice.