INDIANAPOLIS – We knew going into Saturday’s opening day of the Indianapolis 500 Time Trials that the qualifying draw would likely dictate on who makes the Fast Nine or not. See, with the forecast high supposed to be in the mid 80’s on Saturday and to combine that with the wind getting higher as the day goes on, the earlier you qualify on Saturday, the better.
That’s why two Honda drivers are so frustrated with what happened to them in their initial runs on Saturday morning.
We know Chevrolet was going to be quick. They had seven of the top nine speeds in qualifying last year and had four of the top five speeds on the no tow report on Fast Friday.
Alexander Rossi climbing into his car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – INDYCAR Media Site
Despite that, Alexander Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais knew that they had fast cars and ones that could battle Ed Carpenter Racing and Team Penske for the front row on Saturday. With rain in the forecast on Sunday, if the day gets washed out, Saturday will set the Fast Nine.
Yes, ECR and Penske have combined to win four of the last seven Indy 500 poles, but Honda knew they had two big bullets in their chamber and they were squandered.
“It’s terrible,” Rossi said of his run. “We had the car to beat yesterday I think. It was a special race car. For some reason, it was the same car with better conditions and it goes slower. We will figure it out. I think we know what it is.
“We gave away really good track conditions.”
Rossi, was the third qualifier of the day and knew that his initial run was his best shot. He could only muster a four lap average of 228.816 mph on that run. On Friday, his top no tow lap was 229.878 mph. so, he lost a full mph. That’s why he was so frustrated. He ended up getting another shot and went 229.268 mph but it was only good enough for eighth on the day.
The fifth qualifier of the day was Sebastien Bourdais. He was sixth, sixth, fourth and 15th respectively on the speed charts this week. He knew this was one of his best shots at a pole at Indy. Unfortunately, he made a mistake and cost him what he feels was the Fast Nine. Luckily for him, he barely skated by.
“The boys did a great job, they gave me a great car but I totally blew it,” a dejected Bourdais said. “We had really solid balance, good grip, consistent. Honda was spot on the cows for the engine and I made a procedural mistake on Lap 3 going into Turn 1 and almost didn’t make the corner. Not very proud of myself right now. I feel really bad for my boys. They just gave me way too good of a car for me to blow it out like that.
“I probably just threw away a chance at the Fast Nine.”
With this possibly being the only day of qualifying for the pole, do you treat this as the quote on quote “pole day” instead?
“You have to,” said Rossi. “It’s unfortunate or otherwise you just hope to get into the Fast Nine and be great. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to work out. If you think we have a car for the pole or the front row I think you have to go for it today.”