(That Was) Qualifications? Instant Reaction

barberexaminercom

Photo from examiner.com

Either IndyCar’s qualifying rules need to be clarified in the event of rain or NBCSN’s Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Steve “Whoa!” Matchett need to do a better job of communicating them. By the way, we’d also appreciate more screen time for Kelly Stavast and less for Marty Snider. As usual, race control was fighting last week’s war, overly concerned with cars impeding traffic when that wasn’t the issue at Barber Saturday.

diffeydrivecomau

Photo from drive.com.au

For the second time in four races rain affected qualifications – or maybe it didn’t, we’re still not quite sure. Lots of live radar shots set the discombobulated tone for the session and conflicting, confusing messages from the commentators about rain, lightning and new procedures didn’t help matters. Capturing the atmosphere as well as possible Marty actually said late in round two, “Yeah, it’s definitely almost raining at this point.”

snidertheautochannelcom

Photo from theautochannel.com

Championship leader Juan Montoya struggled mightily, failing to advance to the second round and as a result will start fifteenth. His Penske team mates swept the top three spots. Afterward Montoya said, “Yeah, I mean . . . we’ve been a little lost, to be honest with you.” He certainly wasn’t alone. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco missed the cut too, though Marco managed more speed than either Montoya or RHR. Their Hondas start eighteenth and thirteenth on the grid, respectively. Hunter-Reay blamed Coyne rookie Dracone for slowing him down and the “balance” of his Honda, saying their deficit versus Chevy is “reality.”

CFH Racing team mates Josef Newgarden and Lucca Filippi did advance to the second round, as did TCGR’s rookie Sage Karam and Honda drivers Canuck funny guy James Hinchcliffe and Graham Rahal in that snazzy new Steak ‘N Shake livery. Then the rains came.

rahalsnsindycarcom

Photo from indycar.com

Immediately after his interview with a dejected Montoya Marty Snider said, “Remember guys, if it does somehow rain out this qualifying session, they’ll go back to entrant points and guess who would start on the pole? Juan Pablo Montoya.” But then when rain did eventually shorten qualifications, or appeared to, they didn’t go by entrant points and instead went with the tenuous, rain soaked results.

Helio

Photo from usatoday.com

Furthering the confusion, Leigh Diffey said the track record “is gonna get crushed,”  when in fact in the end it didn’t. We loved Robin Miller’s derisive reference to “all these message boards” when discussing Sage Karam, and wondered which sites he’d visited. “Hurry up mode” was instituted to cram the final round of qualifying in, and Diffey explained the policy – “If we get five minutes of green, we’re good. It’s official.”

Yet it “almost rained” the entire shortened final round, which ran about eight minutes in duration instead of ten. Helio took the pole – the seventh consecutive pole for Penske. “Isn’t it beautiful, this rain?” he exclaimed in an interview. Dixon slid briefly off course during the mad dash to beat the rain, ruining his chances and all but guaranteeing another Penske sweep. Well, that and the seemingly ad hoc rules IndyCar whipped out in the rain in ‘Bama.

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