First, a word about Saturday. Incidents like Sebastien Bourdais had and the ensuing dread that accompanies it5 are the price we fans pay for loving racing so much. These things will will happen occasionally. I am glad they happen with much less frequency than they used to.That does not make these things any easier. That was one of the five worst crashes I have witnessed in person at the Speedway. It was a relief to hear today that Bourdais is improving and should recover from his injuries.
Thanks to Tony George for the SAFER Barrier and the Holmatro Safety team for their outstanding work. Two drivers’ lives have been saved by them over the last three seasons.
Now, for today. It was wonderful to see speed return to IMS. The fastest qualifying laps and average in 21 years gave Scott Dixon the pole for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. It is Dixon’s third pole and second in three years. Ed Carpenter will start second, his third front row in five years. Alexander Rossi, the defending champion, starts third. This is a very strong front row.
Honda dominated the Fast Nine with six entries. The Chevrolets in the final, shootout will start second, sixth ( J. R. Hildebrand), and ninth (Will Power).
Overall, not a great qualifying day for Team Penske. After Power in ninth, the next fastest qualifier was Juan Pablo Montoya, who will start eighteenth. Do not dismiss them for the race, however. They will make their presence known.
Dixon’s first lap of 232.595 was the fastest single lap since 1996, and his four lap average of 232.164 also was the best since Arie Luyendyk set the record.
Other notable efforts today-
Fernando Alonso will start fifth in his first 500. His crew had to change the engine in the 29 car after the morning practice. The crew should also get a mention for quickness as it just slightly more than an hour to make the switch.
Rookie Ed Jones will start eleventh. He had to be thinking of his teammate Bourdais on today’s run, but handled it like a veteran.
Buddy Lazier turned his fastest laps of the week and will start thirtieth.
James Davison will replace Bourdais in car 18. That car did not appear today and will start last. There are rules in place that cover this situation.
I saw genuine excitement and heard more cheering today from the fans than I have in a long time on a qualifying day. The high speeds really had people enthused. I hope the series finds a way to increase speed safely.
I plan to post every day through Friday this week. It’s finally Race Week!