A much-anticipated first day of qualifications was made even more intense by elements both on and off the track on Saturday.
35 cars were entered for the 102nd Indianapolis 500, marking the first time since 2011 that multiple cars would fail to qualify. Add into that equation changing weather conditions throughout the day, and Bump Day became an eventful one for all involved.
Check out our practice recaps below, followed by the headlines from today’s fourth practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500.
Qualifying Recap and Headlines
One of the most anticipated qualifying sessions for the Indianapolis 500 in recent memory was made even more intense after multiple rain delays on Saturday afternoon.
When it was all said and done, Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves led the way, while Dale Coyne Racing’s Pippa Mann and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe went home, failing to qualify.
Castroneves (228.919 MPH) leads a Fast 9 shootout on Sunday that will be dominated by Chevrolet. Ed Carpenter Racing owner/driver Ed Carpenter posted the second-fastest time of the day, with Castroneves’ teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power qualifying third and fourth respectively.
The Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan entry driven by Sebastien Bourdais was the top Honda in fifth, with Spencer Pigot (Ed Carpenter Racing), Josef Newgarden (Team Penske), Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Danica Patrick (Ed Carpenter Racing) rounding out the contenders for the pole on Sunday.
Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi barely missed out on the Fast 9 when he went back out late in the running on Saturday. The 2016 Indianapolis 500 set the 10th-best time on Saturday.
Among the major headlines aside from Hinchcliffe and Mann’s DNQs, was the dominance of Chevrolet. The engine manufacturer placed seven cars in Sunday’s Fast 9, while Honda will have just Bourdais and Dixon to contend for the pole on Sunday.
Heading into Bump Day, much of the focus was on the Chevrolet-powered cars of Penske. While the team delivered, placing all four drivers in the Fast 9, the three-car team of Ed Carpenter Racing also impressed, as each car made it to the run for the pole.
Qualifying 12th, best of the four rookies in the field was A.J. Foyt Racing’s Matheus Leist. The Brazilian averaged 227.441 MPH during his run on Saturday.
Perhaps the biggest story in terms of drivers who made their way in on the back end of the field was James Davison.
After crashing in practice on Friday, the A.J. Foyt Racing with Byrd/Hollinger/Belardi team worked feverishly to have his car ready for this morning. The Australian will make his fourth start in the race and currently has the 33rd-best average speed (224.798 MPH).
Another driver whose story can be filed under late Bump Day heroics is Oriol Servia. The Scuderia Corsa with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver overcame mechanical issues early in the day to get his car in the field.
On his third qualifying attempt, the Spaniard averaged 225.007 MPH, 31st-fastest of the day.
Teams also had to fight through two rain delays, first a two-hour, 21-minute delay after Simon Pagenaud’s qualifying run. The next delay, which lasted 51 minutes, occurred during Robert Wickens’ run, forcing the rookie into the pits.
After a wild first day of qualifications, teams will now shift their focus to Sunday, where the field of 33 will be set for the race.
Practice for positions 10-33 begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern and will run for 45 minutes. After a 15-minute break, the Fast 9 will run a 45-minute practice. At 2:45, drivers who qualified 10-33 will run. They will go out in reverse order of their grid position (Davison first and Rossi last).
At 5:00, the Fast 9 shootout will begin. The drivers will also run in reverse order of their qualifying position from Saturday (Patrick first and Castroneves last).
Fans can visit the track to watch practice with gates opening at 9:00 a.m. Those who would like to watch from home can watch via WatchESPN (2:30-6:00) and ABC (4:00-6:00). Indycar Radio will have coverage at that time as well.
That will be available on indycarradio.com, the IndyCar app, Sirius 214 and XM 209. There will also be a live stream as well as timing and scoring available throughout the day with the IndyCar app or at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels for the latest from Indianapolis as we prepare for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.
Images courtesy of INDYCAR.