There was drama until the very final minute, when this years Bump Day at the Indianapolis 2018 was run.
For the first time in my years, it was an actual Bump Day, where only the 33 fastest drivers would advance to the qualifying tomorrow. There were a total of 35 drivers trying to qualify.
All drivers got one chance to do once Qualifying Run each, before they could opt to do another run, if they felt like they could improve their first run.
The qualifying was interrupted twice due to rain, but it still left about one hour of bumping to be possible.
But also the Fast 9 in the field had to be found, for the first for Pole Position.
Helio Castroneves finished the day as the fastest driver ahead of Ed Carpenter, who did the fastest single lap of the day. The qualifying is run over four consecutive laps, with the average of the four, and he was second best on the average. Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais, Spencer Pigot, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon and Danica Patrick were the other 7 of the Fast 9.
Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan ended up right outside, even though Rossi gave it an extra shot.
And then we get to the back of the field, and there were some quite famous names here.
Last year’s Indy 500 winner, Takuma Sato, only did the 29th fastest lap, while his teammate Graham Rahal was right behind. They have Oriol Servia as an extra driver on the team for this race, under the Scuderia Corsa banner. He was 31st fastest, but had to do several tries to achieve that lap.
Conor Daly also had to do multiple attempts to get his car into top 33, while James Davidson was the final driver to qualify.
The two drivers who didn’t make the race was some very surprising names. Indy 500 polesitter 2016, James Hinchcliffe isn’t part of the 33, and unless the team hands the starting permission from Jay Howard to Hinch, he simply wont run this years race. His first run was simply too slow. Then the team had to wait for all other drivers to do their run. When they were sent back on track, he instantly felt a vibration in the car, pitting again – and then time had run out, before he could go on the track for a third attempt.
Brit Pippa Mann was the other driver who didn’t qualify. It wasn’t as big a surprise since she hasn’t been in an Indycar since the race last year. Indy 500 has become a bit of specialty for her, where she has done this race only for the last few years. This time it was proved, that it simply wasn’t enough for her. She don’t have any of her teammates willing to give up the spot, as it looks now, so she is done for this year’s race.
It’s going to be interesting what happens at Schmidt Peterson Motorsport regarding Jay Howard and James Hinchcliffe, and if the team opts to pull out the Brit, and give the spot to Hinchcliffe. Howard the the 18th fastest lap, while Rookie Robert Wickens was two places further behind.
We will know a lot more on Sunday, when the final starting grid for this year’s Indianapolis 500 will be set.