100th Indy 500 Qualifications Day One: Mayor of Indy?

hinchindychadsmithtwittercom

Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

After more a.m. rain, weepers on the track caused a delay in the first day of qualifying for the greatest spectacle in racing. IMS extended the track window by an hour setting up a helluva climax for ESPNews. Boy, was it a Duesie. The Mayor James Hinchcliffe stole the show – and the pole – in a riveting late happy hour run of 230.946 mph.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

Prior to that, Max Chilton was involved in the first accident of the day in practice, losing the car in turn 2 and smashing Chip’s half million dollar bill board up pretty well. Calamity next struck Pippa Mann when her rear wing end fence failed during a qualifying attempt, spinning her out in turn 2. She almost saved it with an evasive maneuver before lightly brushing the wall.

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Photo from ap.org

ABC’s two hour window missed almost everything except Pippa’s spin and the final few qualifiers like 500 winner Buddy Lazier. The coverage consisted of a lot of Mario and the Cap’n sitting around telling jokes – without audio. The words were supplied by Bestwicke, Goodyear and Cheever, who spent a lot of time dryly talking about the complicated qualifying process, often in a contradictory mnner. Fascinating stuff.

Most of the field had qualified earlier, accessible only via stream and therefore shutting out a number of fans. Thanks Mark Miles. One notable driver ABC did manage to air was Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, who qualified for a second time after a disappointing first effort for Chip Ganassi. We wondered which Chip would show up – it wasn’t the fast one. Dixie’s second attempt still wasn’t good enough for the Fast Nine.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

The coverage then went to ESPNews, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to pay for it. To our bleary eyed delight, 500 champ Ryan Hunter-Reay bumped Will “sour grapes” Power just as coverage began on the obscure channel. Wonder how many fans missed it due to the change over from ABC, even though the decision to go later was announced hours in advance? Making matters worse, J.R. Hildebrand nearly did his Harvey Wallbanger impression out of turn 4 again. Several highly regarded drivers tried but fell short of achieving the fast nine, including J.R.’s team mate/owner Ed Carpenter.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

Then things suddenly amped up at the Speedway. Helio took to the track and put up the best time of the day, shouting “Hooo! Hoooo!” afterwards in the interview. He was followed by Hinchcliffe who topped him. In a surprise, Montoya and Dixie then consecutively failed to crack the top nine. Eventually Power did bump his way back in to our chagrin, putting up the third best speed of the day at over 230.7 mph.

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Photo from indycar.com

Hinch’s SPM team mate Oriol Servia made an effort but couldn’t regain a top nine speed for Sam Schmidt. But Marco could for his dad – temporarily at least – bumping his way into the fun. In doing so, he bumped out his team mate Hunter-Reay, who went out for the penultimate attempt of the first day of qualifications, and his last. It was Andretti on the bubble and also firmly in RHR’s sights. Beautifully, RHR went out and returned the favor, making the Fast Nine by posting a four lap average of 230.8. Just like that, Marco was out.

Aleshin then went on track as time expired with Alex Rossi on the bubble – could we see two AA cars bumped in the final minutes? Yes we could, as the Russkie did it – to a chorus of boos and jeers as he crossed the finish line on Armed Forces day. Tellingly, he’d described an earlier run where he nearly hit the wall as being “on the limit” and “doing a little drift” in the corners. Even with Rossi’s demotion, Andretti still has three cars running in the pole shootout Sunday evening. Just not Marco. With Mikhail, SPM has two.

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Photo from Chad Smith on twitter.com

As for the coverage, Goodyear exhibited his complete lack of knowledge when it came to an old Alex Zanardi anecdote. “What was that, six, seven years ago?” he cluelessly asked. Cheever’s best line of the day was when asked about Tomas Scheckter. “I wish you hadn’t brought that up!” he squealed. Finally, in a now annual ritual, Power once again called this year’s qualifying for the Indy 500 “the most difficult ever.” Wanker.

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Photo from foxsports.com.au

The Fast Nine are, in order of speed: James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Helio Castro-Neves, Townsend Bell, Josef Newgarden, Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Munoz and Simon Pagenaud.

On Sunday, all the drivers must re-qualify to set the race order, culminating in the qualifying battle royal for the prestigious pole position and hundred thousand dollar bonus. It could be Hinch, making for a terrific comeback story. Mayor of Indy?

Check back then for more fast and funniness type updates.

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One thought on “100th Indy 500 Qualifications Day One: Mayor of Indy?

  1. Pingback: 100th Indy 500 Qualifications Day Two: Mayor of Indy | Indy Race Reviewer: Fast And Funniness

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