Indy Qualifying Notebook - 3 The Pole Day qualification "bumping" has begun at Indianapolis.
At 2:40 pm, Scott Dixon put his car solidly in the field at 223.781 mph. A few minutes later, Tony Kanaan put a backup car -- complete with body panels from various Andretti Green Racing team cars -- into the field at 222.742.
Tony Kanaan's press conference was part philosophy session, and part comedy routine. Not only did he borrow Hideki's backup car, along with bits from other AGR cars, but he also showed up at the morning team meeting wearing Hideki's driver uniform. The backup car was at least 3 mph faster than Tony's primary car, and while not a pole contender was good enough to put him in the middle of row 3.
The good times for Kanaan, however, didn't last. Kanaan's time was disallowed after tech inspection showed his car to be under the weight limit for qualification. Earlier in the day Justin Wilson’s time was disallowed for "unapproved ballast location." Perhaps the presence of NASCAR legend Richard Petty has inspired the IRL people in ways that were not intended...
At 4:20 pm, Team Penske withdrew Helio's car in order to make a pole run, which Kanaan predicted as much an hour earlier. Helio's time was about 7/10 of a mph faster than teammate Briscoe, and grabbed the pole at 224.864. Briscoe dropped to second, and Franchitti dropped to third.
Petty did show the IRL guys one very neat trick -- how to stand for hours and sign hundreds of autographs. Petty's example set the standard that helped build NASCAR, and stood in stark contrast to the practices of many CART drivers of the era. Joining him was Milka Duno, who pleased fans by posing for photos, signing autographs, and generally being her charming self. One can hope that other IRL drivers take the hint, and stand around doing fan meet and greets instead of hiding in haulers.
By far the surprise of the day was Graham Rahal's time of 223.266, which put him in the middle of the second row. Kanaan suggested that Rahal stay in his hauler calling up friends to brag about the time instead of dropping out and trying to beat Team Penske for the pole, and no doubt Rahal won't be back on the track until race day except for practice laps. Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy
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