DAILY DRAMA

Spencer Pigot & No.21 Chevrolet Crew. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Spencer Pigot & No.21 Chevrolet Crew. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

NTT IndyCar driver, Spencer Pigot/No.21 AutoGeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, turned the fastest four-lap average of 230.083 mph Saturday morning, for the first day of qualifying for the 103rd Indianapolis 500; and it held all day. He was the second driver out, and no one was ever faster. This makes him the provisional pole sitter … until the Fast Nine has its shootout Sunday, weather permitting. If not, today’s times will prevail. Pigot’s closest contender was 2018 Indy 500 winner, Will Power/No.12 Verizon 5g Team Penske Chevrolet, the only other driver to make the 230 mph mark. Pigot’s two Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet teammates, Ed Jones/No.63 Scuderia Corsa and team owner, Ed Carpenter/No.20 also made the Fast Nine.

Pigot is the only one of the nine who hopes for Sunday rain. “Obviously if I had to pick one wya or another, it would be nice to just kind of relax and not have to go again and be on pole, but if we get to go again, I’ve got all the confidence in the world that we’re going to be able to challenge for the pole.”

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ECR Team Owner, Ed Carpenter said “If there were team orders, I would have been first today.”

It was a day of drama, excitement, elation, sadness, hope and fear. The weather played a key role, getting warmer early on, with changing wind patterns, cloud covers playing hide and seek with the sun, and one big crash. No drivers were hurt, per se, but one will feel the effects Sunday.

The Fast Nine on Saturday are Pigot, Power, Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden/No.2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet, Rookie Carlton Herta/No.88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda; Jones, Carpenter, Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda and Sebastien Bourdais/No.18 SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing Honda. Pagenaud came to the post-conference with birthday cake in his hair. He’d been ‘caked’ by his Penske teammates.

Spencer Pigot.

Will Power

Simon Pagenaud. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Josef Newgarden

Colton Herta

Ed Jones & No.63 EC Chevrolet team. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Ed Carpenter

Alex Rossi & No.27 Andretti Honda Crew.

Sebastien Bourdais & No.18 Coyne Honda Crew

Left to Right: Spencer Pigot, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud & his No.22 Menards Penske Chevrolet team, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter, Alexander Rossi and his No.27 Andretti Honda team, and Sebastien Bourdais and his No.18 Coyne Honda team. Photos by Pablo Matamoros.

The top thirty slots were filled by early afternoon. Then the bumping began, and it was fast and furious all the way to the final gun at 5:50pm, with cars still left in line. There were 73 attempts by drivers to qualify, by the 36-driver field. Some drivers made multiple attempts, qualifying and being bumped and re-qualifying and some bumped again.

The top 30 of 33 are locked in for the race. Sunday six drivers will try to bump their way back into the field. They are only eligible for the last row, and three will not make the show. They are: Fernando Alonso/No.66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet; Max Chilton/No.59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet; James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda; Kyle Kaiser/No.32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet; Sage arem/No.24 DRR Wix Filters Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet; and Patricio O’Ward/No.31 Carlin Chevrolet.

Pippa Mann. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Pippa Mann. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Pippa Man/No.39 Driven2SaveLives Clauson-Marshall Racing Chevrolet made te cut. It was emotional for her, having gone through her heartache last year of being bumped at the very last moment. The Fast Nine each will get a single run, like single-file qualifying, to determine the Pole and other eight positions.

The schedule calls for, weather permitting, half-hour Last Row Practice starting at 10:15am; followed by half-hour Fast Nine Practice starting at 10:45am; an hour of Last Row Qualifying starting at 12:15pm; and then an hour for Fast Nine Shootout Qualifying. This ends with Pomp and Circumstance – Pole Awards Ceremony. After all is said and done, it’s one last Sunday Practice 3:15-6pm. All times EST. NBC, which is televising the race and many of the other Indy 500 sessions, will be live 12-3pm EST for qualifying. The post qualifying practice will be aired live on NBCSN. Those lucky enough to have Gold coverage get non-stop video and audio commentary from some very interesting people. Danica Patrick made her first appearance in the TV booth for color commentary, and insider qualifying commentary.

James Hinchcliffe No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Honda. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda crashed hard on his first run at 1:23pm. He spun and flew hard into the Turn Two wall. He was unhurt and was cleared to drive. He did a similar maneuver that previous crashers executed, only his hit was harder faster. He flipped up on his side, balancing on one wheel, and then came down. Hinch did not go all the way over. No driver has yet. He said “I got to Turn Two, and it just sort of suddenly snapped on me. I don’t know if it was a gust of wind or what. Worst-case scenario is doing it again tomorrow. I feel fine. I whacked my knee a little bit. That’s what happens when you hit a wall at 230 mph.” The right front wheel tether worked. Hinchliffe spent some time in the pit box, and then went back to the garage, where the team was working on setting up his backup car. By 4pm the car was back in the Tech Bay, and soon after he went back out. It wasn’t fast enough. His way of resetting his mind after the crash – “Honestly, it’s part of our job. It’s what we do. it’s not the first time we’ve crashed. Probably won’t be the last. So you just ave to be able to put these things behind you and close the visor tomorrow and do it again.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL & NO.23 CARLIN CREW

Charlie Kimball & No.23 Carlin Chevrolet Team. Phot by Pablo Matamoros

As Charlie Kimball/No.23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet said and was requoted often – “There are two kinds of drivers: those who have crashed and those who are going to crash.”

Two-time F1 World Champion, Fernando Alonso/No.66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet didn’t make it into the top 30 the first time. The crew tweaked and worked on the car, and he tried again. Still it wasn’t fast enough, so he got back in line again … and again … and again-staying in the car for three hours. Five tries. Give that man an E for Effort.

And, despite his frustrating day, he did pay the media a post-session visit. “It’s definitely been a difficult day again, difficult week in general, but difficult day. We need to try again tomorrow,, and now stay calm. Obviously it’s a difficult moment or everyone in the team and for me but there’s not much we can do now.” When asked what he thought of Indianapolis 500 qualifying, he responded honestly “Not much.”

Fernando Alonso. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Fernando Alonso. Photo by Pablo MatamorosFernando Alonso. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Alonso had interesting comments about his signing autographs after having a rough week, a rough day and being tired after getting out of the car – hopped out and went running. He was asked why he did still have time to sign autographs- why did he do that when most people would have just kept going. Alonso responded, “Well I didn’t sign all of them.” Laughter. “You know, I stopped, a few, but they are everywhere. You open the motor home, they are there; you go out to the garage, they are there; you go in the bathroom, they are there. So sometimes you stop, sometimes you don’t. But yeah, they are out of the emotions and out of the environment that you are in on that moment. Maybe you jump out of the car, but for them it’s like you were walking there. They didn’t see what you were doing the last ten minutes. So it’s not something that they can control. You try to be nice with most of them, but I understand that a lot of them, they are not happy at the end of the day. So you try to do the best you can.”

Other drivers had multiple tries, including Sage Karem/No.24 DRR Wix Filters Dreyer Reinbold Racing Chevrolet.”I’ve been struggling all month. I guess we under-estimated the wind. I skimmed the wall. The car’s in one piece. It just won’t go quicker. It’s not that much different from our teammate (JR Hildebrand) who just got it in the show. It’s not looking good for us right now.”

The teams were concerned about Sunday’s weather curtailing qualifying and everyone was trying for his/her best time Saturday. There were 36 drivers making 73 tries, and for every try there’s a story.

Qualifying Pit Lanes 1 & 2. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Qualifying Pit Lanes 1 & 2. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Lane Two is the slow lane and long and/or filled. Your current time isn’t in jeopardy. Lane 1 is the fast lane and it goes first. But running from that lane negates any previous times. Lane Two cars can’t run until there are no cars in Lane One. After each run, a driver is expected to meet with media in the Bull Pen.

Qually Crowd.

Qually Crowd.. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

INDIANAPOLIS 500 DAY 1 QUALIFYING

1. (21) Spencer Pigot, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.4655 (230.083 mph)

2. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.4666 (230.081)

3. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.6210 (229.854)

4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.6924 (229.749)

5. (88) Colton Herta, Dallara-Honda, 2:36.8779 (229.478)

6. (63) Ed Jones, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.9035 (229.440)

7. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 2:36.9658 (229.349)

8. (27) Alexander Rossi, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.0217 (229.268)

9. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.3427 (228.800)

10. (98) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.3729 (228.756)

11. (25) Conor Daly, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.4688 (228.617)

12. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.5337 (228.523)

13. (7) Marcus Ericsson, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.5415 (228.511)

14. (30) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.6874 (228.300)

15. (33) James Davison, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.7057 (228.273)

16. (14) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.8116 (228.120)

17. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.8226 (228.104)

18. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.8256 (228.100)

19. (77) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.9009 (227.991)

20. (23) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.9535 (227.915)

21. (48) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 2:37.9584 (227.908)

22. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.9799 (227.877)

23. (19) Santino Ferrucci, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.0815 (227.731)

24. (4) Matheus Leist, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.0911 (227.717)

25. (60) Jack Harvey, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.1063 (227.695)

26. (42) Jordan King, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.2402 (227.502)

27. (81) Ben Hanley, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.2542 (227.482)

28. (26) Zach Veach, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.3523 (227.341)

29. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.3834 (227.297)

30. (39) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Chevy, 2:38.4203 (227.244)

31 Colton Herta 88 39.1869 39.2732 39.3191 39.4036 – 02:37.1828 229.033
32 Alexander Rossi 27 39.2116 39.2801 39.3881 39.4518 – 02:37.3316 228.816
33 Marco Andretti 98 39.2083 39.4134 39.6596 0.0000 – 01:58.2813 228.269
34 Marco Andretti 98 39.3436 39.5281 0.0000 0.0000 – 01:18.8717 228.219
35 Helio Castrone 3 39.3339 39.4492 39.4705 39.5304 – 02:37.7840 228.160
36 James Hinchcl 5 39.4461 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 – 00:39.4461 228.159
37 Conor Daly 25 39.4065 39.4404 39.5280 39.5745 – 02:37.9494 227.921
38 Scott Dixon 9 39.4031 39.4315 39.5284 39.6109 – 02:37.9739 227.886
39 Graham Rahal 15 39.3793 39.6078 39.5751 39.7530 – 02:38.3152 227.394
40 Fernando Alonso 66 39.4738 39.6072 39.6613 39.6916 – 02:38.4339 227.224
41 Zach Veach 26 39.4838 39.6490 39.6460 39.6705 – 02:38.4493 227.202
42 Felix Rosenqv 10 39.4707 39.6126 39.6845 39.6841 – 02:38.4519 227.198
43 JR Hildebrand 48 39.3756 39.4908 39.8213 39.7751 – 02:38.4628 227.183
44 Jordan King 42 39.5432 39.6040 39.6720 39.6980 – 02:38.5172 227.105
45 Graham Rahal 15 39.6161 39.6358 39.6115 39.6605 – 02:38.5239 227.095
46 Patricio O’Ward 31 39.5351 39.6360 39.6156 39.7585 – 02:38.5452 227.065
47 Fernando Alonso 66 39.5100 39.5596 39.7772 39.7435 – 02:38.5903 227.000
48 James Hinch 5T 39.5843 39.6441 39.6938 39.6990 – 02:38.6212 226.956
49 Sage Karam 24 39.4864 39.6450 39.7297 39.7637 – 02:38.6248 226.951
50 Max Chilton 59 39.5426 39.6306 39.7471 39.7160 – 02:38.6363 226.934
51 Patricio O’Ward 31 39.6065 39.6441 39.6835 39.7279 – 02:38.6620 226.897
52 Sage Karam 24 39.4393 39.6974 39.7884 39.7551 – 02:38.6802 226.871
53 JR Hildebrand 48 39.2651 39.6658 39.6522 40.1247 – 02:38.7078 226.832
54 Felix Rosenqvi 10 39.5616 39.7418 39.7241 39.7456 – 02:38.7731 226.739
55 Matheus Leist 4 39.5514 39.5246 39.6225 40.0829 – 02:38.7814 226.727
56 Ben Hanley 81 39.5568 39.6378 39.7259 39.8856 – 02:38.8061 226.692
57 Jordan King 42 39.7900 39.4961 39.8554 39.6850 – 02:38.8265 226.662
58 James Hinchc 5T 39.6008 39.6904 39.6559 39.9725 – 02:38.9196 226.530
59 Max Chilton 59 39.6466 39.7373 39.7990 39.8600 – 02:39.0429 226.354
60 Max Chilton 59 39.6954 39.7075 39.7335 39.9297 – 02:39.0661 226.321
61 Kyle Kaiser 32 39.7538 39.7301 39.8555 0.0000 – 01:59.3394 226.245
62 Fernando Alonso 66 39.3935 39.7859 40.2490 0.0000 – 01:59.4284 226.077
63 Ben Hanley 81 39.5982 39.7666 39.9345 40.0282 – 02:39.3275 225.950
64 Kyle Kaiser 32 39.6294 39.7515 39.8126 40.1565 – 02:39.3500 225.918
65 Sage Karam 24 39.8197 39.8402 39.8712 0.0000 – 01:59.5311 225.883
66 Sage Karam 24 39.5567 39.7184 39.9054 40.2065 – 02:39.3870 225.865
67 Kyle Kaiser 32 39.7532 39.8687 39.9364 0.0000 – 01:59.5583 225.831
68 Patricio O’Ward 31 39.7380 39.7721 39.8650 40.1098 – 02:39.4849 225.727
69 Fernando Alonso 66 39.6527 39.9934 40.0639 40.2100 – 02:39.9200 225.113
70 Fernando Alonso 66 39.6191 39.6813 39.7358 41.3816 – 02:40.4178 224.414
71 Sage Karam 24 39.8961 39.7744 41.0345 46.1755 – 02:46.8805 215.723
72 James Hinch 5T 39.7604 39.7930 39.9814 51.5065 – 02:51.0413 210.475
73 Jordan King 42 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 – 00:00.0000 0

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