Indy Qualifying update at 4:00 PM If you wanted to go fast today, you had to be lucky. Those with early draws had faster speeds, but by 1:00 the track had gotten slippery, the winds were gusting, the sun was out, and the frustrations -- growing.
This year, the top nine qualifiers must requalify at the end of the day, but at least Alex is in the hunt for the final pole position. Seemingly solidly in that last round are Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Alex Tagliani, and Graham Rahal. Surprisingly, Ed Carpenter hung onto the 9th spot.
Around 3:00 the clouds started to come out, and activity began to resume. Helio captured P1 in the heat, which then encouraged the rest of the field. Ryan Briscoe then made the top 9 with his attempt. After unsuccessful attempts by Alex Lloyd and EJ Viso, Vitor Meira put the AJ Foyt car into the race (but not solidly).
Hideki Mutoh is currently listed as 7th on the grid. He has a big smile on his face, and is happy to be out of Andretti DramaSports. Animated and funny during his press conference, he was asked if he'd learned his sense of humor from Tony Kanaan. He said he'd learned much from Tony, but... jokingly, we think... nothing from Danica. He continued that he was much happier over at Newman/Hass now.
Andretti's camp is having a miserable month at Indy. They've been loose all month, and qualification attempts place each of the three cars solidly in the middle of the pack at best. Marco currently sits 14th, and Danica 18th. Worse yet, Tony Kanaan crashed in his qualification attempt, just as Danica started her press conference. "This is going to be an interesting press conference" Danica began, but proceeded to do her best work as she talked to the media. Danica was open and honest with her frustration for the month. She was adamant that she -- or Tony, whose crash replay was playing over her shoulder -- hadn't forgotten how to drive, or had problems trying to control a loose race car. She said that she had a great car, but they just haven't found the correct setup.
Danica was booed during her post-race trackside interview over the PA system, an event that quickly became the talk of the race fans. Tony was checked out and cleared to drive soon after the incident.
Also finding the wall was Mario Moraes. On the 4th lap, he crashed in turn 2. Turn two has the disadvantage of having a strong tailwind, and many drivers talked about the drama associated with getting thru that turn when the rear wing was turned up to NEGATIVE 5 degrees.
That's right -- many teams are running their rear wing at 5 degrees of LIFT, no DOWN FORCE.
The conversation continues as to whether anything new can be learned with a car/engine combination that is on its eight year. Bruno Junqueira, whose practice time is obviously limited this month, told AutoRacing1 that everyone pretty much knew everyone else's setups, and therefore not much can be gained from practice. On the other hand, Penske and Ganassi drivers have put in as many miles during this shortened season as in previous longer practice periods. When asked if anything new could be learned during practice, Dario replied, "Yes. Otherwise we would be out there." Team mate Scott Dixon then chimed in that the rules are different this year, and so these are not the same cars and setups that they ran in previous years.
Same setups or not, the truth is that the same teams with the same drivers are in their same positions at Indy. Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy
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