Last year, Helio won the pole position and then ran away from the field during the last laps of race. This year, he won the provisional pole as well as the shootout pole, both in dominating fashion.
Helio waited until the heat of mid-afternoon to requalify for the provisional pole. While not affecting anything in the shootout, pit positions were at stake during the regular session, so it was worth the effort for Team Penske to try a second attempt. At 2:23 pm, before things started cooling, he went out and put Team Penske into their preferred first pit position, which stunned the crowd.
Going out first during the shootout, Helio's second and third laps were over 228 mph, which is the fastest speeds seen all month (if not for the last few years). Finally settling for a 227.970, he sat back and watched the other eight drivers take a shot at his time. In the end, only his Penske team mate Will Power posted a threat for the pole. In fact, Hideki's two attempts were both too slow to qualify in the top 24 earlier in the day, and Ed Carpenter only gave it one try before calling it a day.
Shootout Results -
1 - Helio Castroneves - 227.970 mph
2 - Will Power, 227.578 mph
3 - Dario Franchitti, 226.99 mph
4 - Ryan Briscoe, 226.554 mph
5 - Alex Tagliani, 226.39 mph
6 - Scott Dixon, 226.233 mph
7- Graham Rahal , 225.519 mph
8 - Ed Carpenter, 224.507 mph
9 - Hideki Mutoh, 223.537 mph
The shootout rules remained unclear until the last minute, or at least remained confusing to both teams and press until the very end. There was confusion over the qualifying order of the shootout (whomever lined up first, we think), whether the times from earlier in the day could be kept (they couldn't), and a few other details. In the end, there appeared to be no harm for taking as many runs as the team desired at the pole, other than the obvious inherent risks of crashing. Should a car crash and the car or drive be unable to compete in the 500, the worst place they would start would be 9th.
Under the new format, the first 24 positions are set by Pole Day qualifying. When the dust settled, only 2.5 seconds separated the provisional pole speed and the 24th fastest effort, roughly the time it takes for a beer drinker to burp.
Some very big names failed to qualify. Vitor Meira, Jay Howard, AJ Foyt IV, Paul Tracy, Mario Monancini, Sebastian Saavedra, and Milka Duno all were bumped. Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato both crashed their cars. Bruno Junqueira planned on a second-day effort all along. John Andretti's car seems to be suffering from a case of Andretti Motorsports handling problems. And Sarah Fisher... Sarah was last seen looking dejected as she walked back to her garage.
Last year's pole was won by Helio Castroneves with a speed of 224.864 mph. This year that would've been 14th spot on the grid. Conversely, last year's slow qualifier, Hunter-Reay, posted a speed of 220.597 mph, which might hold up tomorrow with the expected high temperatures.
Results, spots 10-24
10 - Townsend Bell, 225.097 mph
11 - Justin Wilson, 225.05 mph
12 - Raphael Matos, 225.029 mph
13 - Mario Moraes, 224.888 mph
14 - Davey Hamilton, 224.852 mph
15 - Mike Conway, 224.583 mph
16 - Marco Andretti, 224.575 mph
17 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, 224.548 mph
18 - Dan Wheldon, 224.465 mph
19 - EJ Viso, 224.38 mph
20 - Tomas Scheckter, 224.261 mph
21 - Ana Beatriz, 224.243 mph
22 - Simona de Silvestro, 224.228 mph
23 - Danica Patrick, 224.219 mph
24 - Bertrand Baguette, 224.189 mph
||Simona de Silvestro
POLE DAY QUALIFYING QUOTES (11 a.m.-4 p.m. segment) - Saturday, May 22
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "We were slow. It's impossible to get a clear lap in the morning. You get tows and so on. I don't know why, but we were a little bit slower (in qualifying). Today is the day that you need a good car. I haven't seen the data to see what happened on that first lap, but I made a mistake. I accidently hit the paddle while adjusting the roll bar on the first lap. I'll see what that cost me. We'll go back and look at it and make a few adjustments and maybe come out again. The first sector does count because that's the pit selection. You want that pit out, so we'll work closer on it. It didn't feel as clean as my previous runs. I made a couple of mistakes in the cockpit."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 21 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): "It's a fun month, but about 30 minutes ago I wasn't having that much fun getting the car ready for qualifying. It's the toughest thing we do. It's tougher than any race. This will be my 10th time here, and it's crazy. It's not easy. We ran into a few problems this morning and didn't get out for the early practice, and the guys did what is normally a two-hour change in about 40 minutes just to get me out to do some practice. We were hoping to get in the 225 range, and we're 224.8. We're close. I don't know if it's going to be worth it to go back out. I want to see where we are. We're good, actually. The car was very balanced and probably almost too stuck."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Ipiranga/DRR): "If I listen to some people about qualifying, I wouldn't do it because it would be scary. I was nervous a little bit about it. In all, I was very comfortable, relaxed in the car. I knew the car could do it. This was the biggest race to qualify. I'm very happy for the team. I think we can keep 224 average, so let's sit and wait and see what the guys can do. The practice, practice, practice and wait to qualify and wait for the race is all the same for everybody. It was a long week getting up to speed. I'm happy we finished qualifying at a pretty good speed."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): (On the waiting game on Pole Day): "It's a long day, especially when you're so close to the pole. We had Tagliani on our radar because we knew he was fast, and we tried to get all we could out of the car. Now we have to decide, 'Do we go out and try to get the first pit or do we wait for the Fast Nine?'" (On importance of pit selection versus having the pole position): "We forget about the pay day that comes with the pole. The pay day is on Race Day and having the first pit certainly helps with that. I've already won without the first pit, so starting in the front of the mass and staying out of trouble is more important." (On Alex Tagliani's speed): "It just shows that every little bit counts. Tagliani is on a new team, doing well in the season, and now comes to the Indianapolis 500 and is just a hair better than Team Penske or Team Ganassi. Everybody in the race has a chance. That's the beauty of racing against the best and having the level of competition get higher and higher." (On having a fast warm-up lap and ending up in the second position): "I got a little excited. I thought I was lifting and it's just one of those things where the car is pretty good, and you're thinking, 'Man, this is going to be fast.' When I saw the times in the dash, I was like, 'No, no, no.why?' I tried to get into a good rhythm, and the car's speed didn't fall too much. I did have to work quite a lot in the car. When they told me where I was, I thought, 'No, no, I shouldn't have done that first lap.' The front row is a great place to be, and now we have to decide what to do. I think we'll have a car that can certainly go in the Fast Nine."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy): "That was a pathetic first attempt, especially if you're trying to get into the top nine, but it' s hard to wave off a mid-224 (mph lap). But it's always good to bank (a qualification attempt). We're definitely going out again later. I was really loose the whole run, really scrubbing the tires. There is lap time in grip right now. If we can pick up grip and slide less, I think we'll go quicker. It's supposed to get hotter this afternoon, but you can't blame your run on the weather. We're a mile and a half off right now."
JAY HOWARD (No. 66 Service Central/Sarah Fisher Racing): "I sat there in line and I saw the sun coming out, and I thought, 'Oh, no.' It had been overcast and cold all week. I had understeer, oversteer and sliding all over the place, hanging on for dear life. I had never experienced a car moving around like that. I was more anxious to get going. I just went out and did my thing. My heart rate was up a little bit, and not many things get my rate up. We had 15 minutes of sunshine on the track to feel that much different. I can just imagine how much it will deteriorate (speeds). This was a very special time. The experience you gain here is phenomenal. You learn to hang on, no matter, and keep your foot down. I would like to think we're in the show."
MILKA DUNO (No. 18 CITGO): "It was OK. I think we'll have to try again because we had some big, big understeer in the exit of the corners. It was a good lap at the beginning, but after that, the understeer was increasing and increasing. It was not good enough like we want. I enjoy Indianapolis so much. It's a magic place. It's a special event. It's just great to see everybody - all of the fans here with so much enthusiasm. It's just fantastic. It's big in Venezuela. Everybody knows the Indy 500. Everybody in the world follows this big race."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD) (After first attempt): "We don't really have a qualifying car right now. We have a race car, and that's what I'd rather have. We're good in traffic, and the Andretti team always puts together great race cars. I mean, in Kansas we were in the back and ended up comfortably in the top five. We'll go back and change some things and try to get some more speed out of it, but I'm just looking forward to getting through this." (On handling the new format): "It's been tough with the shortened week. When you lose a day or even half of a day to the weather, it puts you into race trim and qualifying trim back to back all the time. You have to cram everything into four or five days. I think this race is the best race in the world. It's the biggest race in the world, and it should be a month long, so maybe we'll go back there." (On the effect of the Pole Day weather): "It has a big effect. The track is a darker surface, so it heats up really quick and it gets a little greasy. We haven't been practicing in the sun, and we'll have to adjust for it. These teams are good enough to do it."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing): "We didn't make the top nine, but I thought it was a consistent, good run for the team. As we planned, it was a good run for the amount of wing we carried today. And the conditions were getting so difficult. I don't think it is worthwhile to try again. So it was a decent run. We'll take that. I don't think the track is going to get any better. It's just getting greasier, and the temperature is rising really quickly. It was a consistent run, especially that first lap - it was pretty good. It's pretty difficult with light downforce. It's pretty risky to go out there and try again. We're pretty happy."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Panasonic Formula Dream): "So far we are very happy. The team has done a fantastic job, and they are working very hard every day. We had some problems earlier in the week, but the team has made the car very good. But I think I need some more speed this afternoon, so I might go out again. This team has great knowledge at this racetrack. They qualified Graham Rahal fourth last year."
MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "This has not been easy. For sure, we were expecting a lot more speed during this qualifying run. We didn't get the speed that we wanted. Now we'll try to look at some data and see where we can improve the car. For sure, we need to find some more speed if we want to make it into the race. I raced here last year with (Firestone) Indy Lights and had a pretty good race. This year things have been more difficult for us, but hopefully we'll find our way and improve the car."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "I'm kind of up in the air right now. We thought we were going to be a little bit quicker. But obviously from practice to qualifying, things changed a little bit weather-wise. We just kind of got to wait around all day to see where we stack up and what we need to do. I think we just wait and see how things go and see what happens." (How has it felt to be in the car during the month?): "It's been good. Being out of the car for a year definitely sets you back a little bit. We've kind of eased our way into it, I would say. The car's been comfortable off the trailer, which helps a lot. And having a teammate like Vitor also helps out a lot."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "That run was a little bit loose. The car obviously is very quick. We were quick this morning. I don't know if it was the temperature or the change that we made. It was incredibly loose, a little bit difficult, but like I said, the boys have done a great job with the National Guard car all month. I think we know the potential of the car." (On the weather change): "That's Indianapolis. You got to be on top of your game and cover all your bases. That's all part of it. It's a long way until race time, but all the work the team put in before this month started is great. We're confident in the car's speed. We're worried about the car in qualifying trim today. I think I have a good handle on it."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR): "I'm pretty happy with it. Right now, we're in the ninth position. The Z-Line Designs car was really good. There's a big tailwind into Turn 2, so the car was pushing through there and I was constantly working with my tools to get the car free, but it made it loose in Turn 1. I don't want to do that again. If we get bumped out of the Fast Nine, I think we'll be happy with being the first 24 cars." (On driving for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing): "I'm really enjoying it. We've got a lot of experience with Larry Curry and Matt Curry. Hopefully we can get a good result for them here, and it's nice to pay it off with a quick lap. That's the quickest I've run on my own here, and it's a lot of fun with this team."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com): "I started out with the front end not being great from the start off Turn 2. I held on for the first two laps, which weren't even comfortable themselves, and I was pushing off (Turn) 2, and the car was just so loose on the last two laps. We have so little grip in the car to not make it worse. Sometimes that adds to it. When the car pushes more, you turn into it more, and there are going to be times when it catches and then you also have to catch the rear. It's oversteering, and the understeer makes more oversteer. It's really complicated right now. Fundamentally, you have a car that's just not balanced correctly."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team): "I've been lucky enough not to be sick in the last nine years at a racetrack. I'm sick, and it has not been fun, but we're on top of the boards so I can't complain. I have to credit the amazing group at the shop. The guys put together a good car. They put their passion, their love into it, and they're willing to stay an hour extra to make sure everything is fine-tuned. The chemistry is fantastic. Everybody feels like they're a part of the result. This track is all about the preparation and what the team can give you in the car. Hopefully with the speed we have right now, we're not going to be in the same position as last year. It's an experience. You come to Indy, and you have to go through all the ups and downs of the Indianapolis 500. So far it's just been a fantastic week. We're going to wait and relax and keep watching the TV because it makes you really stressed."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 30 The Quick Trim/RLR Special): "I think the guys performed extremely well. The quick trim car felt really good. We were a little bit loose in qualifying, so I don't think that we got the ultimate pace out of it. Right away on my warm up lap, I could feel it snapped on me twice. I knew that I had my hands full a little bit. But the rest of the run went fairly well. I was just trying to control it; the last lap lost a little bit of pace. It snapped at the exit of Turn 1. I had to have a quick breather. Overall, I thought it was a good run. Our pace has been there the entire time." (Are you surprised at how well you have done with the deal just being put together?): "I think for us it's great to see. I think we're all surprised. None of us expected to be, you know, a tenth of a mile per hour off of Scott Dixon. I think that shows, though, the potential of this team. They've been out of it for a couple of years now. Certainly have not developed the car as these others have. And, yet, we can show up and be right on par. There's a lot of pride to be involved in a team like this that can do that."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10T Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "This morning, particularly, I woke up thinking and hoping the car would be fast enough because we had been off all week. We made wholesale changes overnight, and the car was 1Â½-mile an hour faster this morning (practice). We were quite pleased with that. Every time you qualify, you think you know what you have for that first lap, but you never know. We made some small changes with the data and from Scott's run, as well. The big difference was that it got warmer. It certainly took some grip away from this morning. The first thing is to get in the top nine, and the second is to get as good pit selection as possible. The car (qualifying) felt like it was sliding more." (About the new qualifying format): "Since they changed the format five years ago, we've had to make multiple attempts. For the crowd, it will be great. Looking at the crowd today, the fans like the idea, too. We're in the top nine so far. I have a feeling Chip (Ganassi) will roll the dice, and we'll see the No. 10 Target car out there today."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dad's Root Beer/DRR): "It's great to do that run and get it out of the way. It should be quick enough to hold us in that top 24, hopefully the top 15 to 20. We'll see. The day is getting hotter, so it kind of works in our advantage. Maybe the track will be slower. I'm pretty happy with the laps we've done. I think where we are is a good position. We're ahead of some great cars. I think we can stay there. If we have to run again today we know some small things we could change. But, the car is good at the moment so I'm pretty happy with what we have."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "For me, it was very conservative. The car had pretty good grip, definitely some understeer. So it was quite an easy attempt. The car wasn't on edge, but it was obviously sliding, too. We ran almost four identical laps. We'll definitely be running later today to try and find a little more speed and move up a little. We would be pushing it for the pole. We have more, I think, but how much more, I have no idea. We're in the hunt, so we'll see what we can pull out of it. We're not in it (pole) for the money. We're here for the results. Definitely to go for the points and pit position; pit position will mean a lot on Race Day. The pole is not the end-all to the race. You've had cars win from row four or five. For us, we're here to finish first (on Race Day)."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport): "I'm enjoying every minute of it. Being a rookie isn't that bad at all. It (qualifying) is very nerve-wracking when you are just waiting to go out. Once you go, it's like there's just another practice lap. You just forget anything that is going on. I'm here working as hard as I can. This is the first time we actually go out in these kinds of conditions. It (track conditions) upsets the car quite a lot. Now we know what it is doing to the car, we know what to do. With this track temperature and everything, there are lots of choices to do."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske): "I think you'll see me back out. Hopefully, it will be after 4:30. That's the goal at the moment. But I think it's exciting. There are so many cars, it is quite a long time from the guy who picks at the beginning of the draw to the guy who picks at the end. The conditions have changed. None of us have driven in this heat all week long. Since last Saturday, it's been overcast everyday and quite a bit cooler. For me going out to qualify on that run, it was the hottest it has been. Conditions were a bit different, and it was a bit of a challenge. I thought the balance was pretty close, but you saw cars either side of me having some spins and some issues. It's definitely getting a bit more difficult. But I think we can find a bit more speed."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds HVM): "I'm relieved that finally we got one qualifying run out. We did pretty well, I think. We had a little bit of understeer during the run, so maybe we can improve that if we want to go out again, especially with the sun being out right now. But I'm pretty happy for my first qualifying at the '500.' It's something really special. It's crazy. Moraes had a crash before me, so we sat there for a while. You get pretty nervous because you think, 'Oh, these four laps are really going to count to make the show.' I never thought in my dreams I would be a part of this. Being here right now is really special to me, and I'm really excited about it."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Panther/Vision/Fuzzy's Vodka): "It was a tough one. It's really slick today with the track temps being way higher than they've been all week. So it was a challenge. There were a couple moments in the third and fourth lap where it could have ended badly. My experience here, and I think some of our old experience at the dirt tracks, paid off today. I've never gotten away with sliding around this track like I just did a few minutes ago. We're just going to have to wait and see what other people can do, because the conditions aren't good, and it's really tough out there right now." (On the importance of returning to Indy this year despite not currently being a part of the IZOD IndyCar Series full time): "Obviously, it was a little disappointing to not be running the series full time. But it would have been devastating to not be in the Indy 500. If I can only do one race, this is the one I want to do."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske) (After second run to capture fastest run of first segment): At one point, I was thinking to myself, 'Are we incredibly stupid or are we incredibly smart?' It turned out to be a good one. I'll have to say it was not easy at all. When you're at this place going to the limit, it's very, very hard. We should already be done, but we still have to go back out there and do it one more time. My team said I had to do it and I had to go. After we practiced, we thought that we had a good enough car to go for it. It's one of those things. Since we practiced, we know how the car is for the top nine. We know what we need to do. Hopefully we can do it again, another one like that. I love this place. And I think the team believes in me. When you have that combination, it goes perfect. But it was not easy, man. Right now, I want this thing to be over. But you gotta' do what you gotta' do. We know what we're capable of. We've got to go for it one more time, but we're ready. We're done. Now are chance is to go for the real deal and work it out. You always try to find a little bit. Hopefully, we'll keep the consistency of the laps. Certainly, we were right there."
E.J. VISO (No. 8T PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KV Racing Technology): "It feels great to put it into the show. It's been a very eventful weekend for myself and the team after my hard crash. I'm still a little bit sore, but nothing is going to stop me from being in this event. The car is pretty trimmed. I almost lost it twice during my run, so I think we need to do a little more mechanical work and get it to stick to the ground a little more." (On the track conditions): "The wind is changing a lot out there. It's getting a bit gusty, and it's changing directions. So, it's something you have to adjust to lap after lap. The track is also pretty warm, and it is a little greasy."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing): "Right now, I feel for the rookies a little bit because it's a tough situation out there. Not every qualifying is like that. It's been a tough day. Today is completely different. We've had wind everywhere, every day, but today. We've had very good temperatures and cold temperatures, but not today. After Kansas, we thought we got everything pretty good and fast here for Indianapolis. We unloaded real fast. Real fast first day, second day. But from then on, it's not that we got worse. It's just been tough to get the speed. We've got to really look into every lap we have right now; dissect everything. It's not where we're supposed to be. We should be around ninth or whatever. So we got some work to do."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB): "It was not so good. I was thinking we could go a lot quicker, but the track is so slick. This morning, we were doing 225, and now we are having difficulty with 224. The car was pushing a lot more, and I think we just went out at the wrong time. I'd like to do it again because I don't feel comfortable with my position right now. The goal is to be in the top 24, and we're in the 19th position, so it is very close. I'm in a dangerous position." (On Race Day): "I don't know. I know all of those grandstands will be full, and it will be great, for sure. It will be very special. I've never driven in front of 400,000 people before. There's a first time for everything, though." (On qualifying as a rookie): "It was quite stressful because I just saw the cars ahead of me put it into the wall. It was definitely not the best situation. We had good speed, but we need to go faster than this to stay in the top 24."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske) (after second run): "It was a good run. I had a bit of a gearbox problem on my first run this morning. This was a clean run. We didn't have ultimate speed at the beginning, but it was real consistent, so I just hung on for a couple more laps. It's not going to get much quicker. We will have good grid position. A big difference, the wind and heat mad it (second run) a lot more slippery. It passed through the air, but it was harder to drive.
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 23 Mona Vie/DRR): "Yeah, I mean, if you can imagine I did a 222 before. This whole month my car had no speed. I've been the most trimmed out of all the cars and just could not get any speed out of it. I still don't know what they've done. He came on the radio, he goes: 'I did something. I didn't tell you before I went out. But I'm glad it worked. I knew you could handle it.' So I'm curious to go see what they've done. It was just a good job by everybody. I know I was loose a couple times there. I mean, I was just so light with the steering wheel, collecting it once or twice in three and four. I'm happy all of the Dreyer & Reinbold cars are qualified. I'm happy and thankful Mona Vie has come on board to get me into my ninth Indy 500." (But that's one of the advantages of having a veteran driver, I would think, is the crew says, 'We tried something and we can trust you on the fly to react to that.'): "Well, they usually tell you before they do it."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Ipiranga/DRR) (After second run): "I'm much happier to be the fastest rookie today than anything. With this being a last-minute deal with the Dreyer & Reinbold team, it's something fantastic. I wouldn't imagine being the fast female, but what really catches me here is being the fastest rookie. I didn't really have much time to practice at all, but it paid off." (On her first Indianapolis 500): "I'm so thrilled. It was hard this afternoon with all the changes we were making, but everything went well. I didn't stop at the wall, and I finished the run. And being the fastest rookie, I'm thrilled to be in the field for the Indy 500. This is a dream come true. I've been racing since I was 8. Since I saw Emerson Fittipaldi winning the Indianapolis 500, I wanted to do the same thing. Here I am trying to get my dream.We're going to focus on racing now. Tomorrow is probably the only day we'll have to trim the car for the race, so we'll use the time to do a better job."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Ganassi/Schmidt Racing): "I hate to drive like that here --drive it like I stole it. I was dirt-tracking in (Turn) 1 pretty good. I was afraid I wasn't going to make it. These guys gave me a great car, and I have to credit the support we got from Chip Ganassi. We put a totally different setup on the car (after the first attempt) and scrambled to get out and test it. It was completely different, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to put four laps together. Sam (car owner Sam Schmidt) asked me before I went out whether I was going to OK, and I told him, 'I think so.' It's just a good example of you take big, big steps here at Indy on the setup, but what you sacrifice is the ability to fine-tune it. All of yesterday, we were fine-tuning the package, fine-tuning the package and even this morning, fine-tuning the package. But it was clear the package wasn't fast. So, we had to throw that package out the window and open a new package. Then, we didn't have the time to fine-tune it. So we were rushing. Andy (Brown) made a great call to take a quick stab at tightening things up, and we were able to get that done enough to feel like we could get in line and give it a shot. But to be perfectly frank, I wasn't that comfortable that we could even hang on for four laps. The first two practice runs with that setup were awful. We were sliding all over the place. It was a bit of blind faith, for sure. On the qualifying run itself, going into Turn 1 on three of the four laps, the back end was stepping out, and I was having to drive it pretty hard. It's not the way you really want to do it. But it was a huge relief to jump back up 10 positions and start up front."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology) (after second run): "The crew did a great job putting the car together. Going through practice was pretty tough for me. The car was pretty good the whole week. We made a few changes and lost some downforce on the car. We didn't make the right changes. We didn't have to use the T car. I was thinking to go to the top nine in the morning but after (accident), I just wanted to go on the track again today so we could qualify. We qualify pretty good. We changed to the same downforce we had this morning. We wanted to change again but there was no time. We got what we got." Note: The KV Racing Technology crew replaced the rear-end parts except the gearbox in 40 minutes. The team spent 10 minutes on the setup pad, five minutes in tech and then five minutes to push the car to the pit lane.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven): "It was a hard day. I had to try to make something happen, and I will not give up trying to be fast. Tomorrow is another day, and we'll be ready to get everything we can. I'd love to be in the show right now, but we're not, so we can't worry about that."
PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO - CURB Records - KVRT): "I really don't know what to say. Somehow we lost our way today. We were quick the other day, but, for some reason, the GEICO car doesn't have the speed in qualifying trim. It is frustrating for the whole GEICO - KV Racing team. We will be ready to go on Sunday."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com) (Public Address interview after run): "No, I think it was absolutely awful. I wasn't flat the last two laps, and I was scared to death flat the first two. And it didn't get better. You know, the problem is, is that the car can be fast. You trim it out and it accelerates, so there's no issue there. It's just that the balance and the car itself is so bad, we can't even trim it out to go faster. By the sounds of the trim numbers, I think we're pretty excessive anyway, but ... I don't know. I'm very, very disappointed. I've never been bad here before. I've never been outside the top 10 on a finish or qualifying, so, um, it's not my fault. This car is not good."
TRANSCRIPT OF DANICA PATRICK'S POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE:
DANICA PATRICK: I have a feeling this is going to be an interesting press conference.
PAT SULLIVAN: Well, Danica, you're back at a place where you've had great success at Indianapolis, from the very beginning, so it's a track that's suited you well. I'm assuming that you wanted a little more time in that run.
DP: Well, we've been loose all month even with downforce on the car. You can just feel that it's not ever there. It's just constantly lifting and feeling light all the time, and so then you trim it out and that gets worse and then you gotta keep just enough front grip out of it that it doesn't overstep it. So then you understeer and then you add (inaudible) and that makes it again worse, so the car is just totally skating across the track and there's no grip. My car that my mechanics took tons of time to make sure fit perfectly, was fast and slick and no drag. It's there. It's just that the setup's not there, and I feel bad for them because it's a good car. There's just not a good setup on the car. I don't like to see Tony spin and hit the wall, but he did just spin. I mean, Marco is loose and Ryan and John are a little slower. They don't feel like they have the speed, but they're still feeling some of the same things. We're just generally struggling. If I had the answer, we'd do it.
Q: If somebody had said earlier in the week that of the fast nine, none would be Andretti Autosport cars, you would have probably argued with them and said that's not going to happen. There'll be a couple of us in there. But, as of right now, that's pretty much how the board looks.
DP: Pretty much any other year we've been here, we've been all in the first day when there was only 11 that made it. Last year, Mike drove five of us in the top 11. I mean, for the most part, we all are vying for a front row, at least. Someone is and I was disappointed that I didn't get to go back out because I thought I had a shot at the front row. Maybe not pole, and I was seventh last year. This is disappointing. None of us are OK with this. We all are generally saying the same things and I do know that whatever it takes, the team will do. We just need to be uniform in what we want.
Q: And it will be a new experience for you starting in the middle of the pack. That seems to be the most intense spot of the starting lineup to start this race.
DP: Well, I have been in the back of the field at some points during this race, the first race in particular where I went toward the front, well, I started up front. Then I stalled it. Went to the back. Came back through. Was up to sort of eighth-ish or something. Had a bad restart. Got clipped. Had to start from the back again and made my way up. It's a lot of buffeting; it's a lot of moving around. A lot of thinking, 'Is this thing broken right now? Because it doesn't feel right.' But at least I have that experience if for some reason we decide that we're just not going to go out again. The GoDaddy car deserves to be higher up than this. It's better than this. It's just not set up right.
Q: Danica, you just don't sound very confident in the security of your racecar.
DP: Shoot! I say one confident thing out there that it's not me, and everybody boos me. I'm blown away. These people, I mean. I don't know, maybe they all booed me before. I would think that some of them have probably cheered for me before, and I'm not a different driver than I was five years ago. I don't know if those people were here five years ago, but I got loose in (Turn) 1 and caught it and kept my foot down. So I can drive a loose car but this is beyond. Obviously.
Q: With the car the way that it is, you seem like you're going to be happy if you can just get in the top 24 and focus on race set up. Is that where you're at?
DP: I was shaking for minutes after I got out of the car. I know a lot of people are saying they're loose but, I'm sure they are for sure, but this is such an uncomfortable imbalance. It's just uncomfortable. I'm OK with being loose, but I gotta feel all four corners and I don't feel like I know where all four corners are all the time. Like I pointed out about getting loose in (Turn) 1 a few years back, I can do that. I know it's probably more difficult than ever because we are seeing a warm day on the only day we've had warm so far. The track every year gets a little bit smoother and a little bit less grip. We are going a little faster this year. I mean, the pole was 223 last year, and now you're seeing 226-something, which is something happening in my dreams right now. I don't really know what else to say. I wish I was more confident. I wish I was. I believe that on Race Day anything is possible and it takes some control, some patience. As Al (Unser) Jr. told me, use the first half to get to the last half. I mean, they're simple words but they make sense. I think I can, I know I can do that. The car might not be perfect, but you can still salvage a decent day. If we can just make it a little bit better, I think that we'll be OK in the race. It's just really, really hard to drive right now.
Q: I think I read where Tony (Kanaan) said 'I think they gave my backup car to John.' Just looking at what happens, how in the team do you move backup cars around if they can't repair it in time or whatever?
DP: What was weird, and we're trying to on the team when you have as big of a team as this you know, you see Ganassi cars bouncing from their T car back and forth trying to see which one is faster. So, Tony jumped into all of our cars. I mean, Tony can wheel. This was a loose car. He took my car, not even his own car, jumped in it with my pedal settings and everything, go out onto the track and he was flat out into (Turn) 1 on his first lap. He can drive. So what was your question? So Tony drove all five cars, and the weird thing was that John's car almost seemed the quickest. He was like 224 his first run with a little tow, but he was pretty fast. All the cars seem to be generally about the same speed, so I don't know what's going on. I don't know why his car's not fast. I know the team is trying to do something about it, and that's just it. The team will do everything that they can. We just need to know what it is that we want. That is a hard question to answer because if we knew exactly what we wanted, we just would have done it. Unfortunately, it's a lot of guessing, and it's so late in the game. We've got one more day left and, God forbid, I have to go back out because I don't make it, you know, we're done. We're out of days because it's been weather and it's a shorter month. I don't prefer this schedule. I think it's a little complicated, and I think it's hard to be race and qualifying ready when you're mixing the two. I don't always think they're the same cars, and it's made it another level of challenge.