Indy 500 Bump Day Final Report
Nothing shows “the agony of defeat” like being left out of the Indy 500. Strong men cry, fortunes are lost, and a place in ignoble history is gained. Today, Katherine Legge spent all day on the bubble, waiting for a run by Michel Jourdain Jr. that never came.
The morning started out predictably enough – everyone who was ready for a qualification run did so as quickly as they could, avoiding both a warming track and a day of drama. The field quickly filled up, leaving Conor Daly, Buddy Lazier and Katherine Legge on the last row. Katherine's team owner, Sam Schmidt, commented that they did the run with a good amount of downforce, and could've gone at least half a mile faster, but they simply wanted "to put a number up."
In the ensuring hours, all eyes focused on the odd man out, Michel Jourdain Jr. During the day teammate Graham Rahal took the car out for a couple of laps and deemed it "undriveable." At one point, the IMS / IndyCar chaplain was a good source of information -- there was no indication that he was asked to perform an exorcism, but it might've been the only solution for that car.
The only other drama of the day came late when Will Power brushed the wall in Turn 4 going half throttle and practicing pit stops. He bent the right rear suspension but nothing that cannot be fixed.
Most of the drivers and teams depart Indy until Carb Day, which is Friday.
BUMP DAY QUICK QUOTES:
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR.: “It was a hard all week, we struggled. Right away, I thought the car to be very good, but when you only drive once a year, it’s just so hard. Some days the car was getting better; some days not. Yesterday was the lowest point. So we tried James (Jakes) setup, as he was the fastest of the three cars. In Turn 4 of the first lap, I almost spun. I thought this car was undriveable. Then we put Graham (Rahal) in the car. His same setup, even his steering wheel. It was impossible for him to make a difference; he just couldn't drive it. He got to 204 and said, ‘I can't go any faster.’ The only thing we could do was something stupid and put the car into the wall and not make the race anyway, so there's no point in that. We know, for sure, that there is something wrong with the car, for sure. Something bent, broken, loose, bending. Something is broken in the middle of the car we have not seen. Mike Conway drove this car in Long Beach, and it was OK. But there is something wrong; we don't know. Earlier in the week, I hadn't driven these cars in a year and was running in traffic. First day I was having so much fun. The car was easy to drive and so much fun to drive. Today it was just impossible.”
KATHERINE LEGGE: “Relief. Obviously it’s not nice to do it in that manner; I feel bad for Michel. It’s not nice for him to not have the opportunity. However I am happy I am in the field. I’m not going to lie about that. I’m going to sleep tonight for the first time in a few days. I feel really bad for Michel. I can’t even think what’s going through his head. I’m gutted for him.” (About not getting in a car until Bump Day): “Yeah, no pressure. I’m just really fortunate I’m with such a good team. Simon (Pagenaud) and the engineers and Tristan (Vautier) have done a really good job of setting the car up so far. It’s tight on time. I’m not going to lie; I was freaking out this morning. We just have to work through things in a very organized way. The team has just been incredible. So I’m relatively happy right now. I think I’ll be happier at the end of the day when we’ve put her in the field. But it’s a challenge.” (What’s the plan for today?): “The first chance we get before it gets too hot here we’re going to try to stick her in the field. If we’re safely in, then we can go practice and work on some other things, as well. We have to trim her out a bit. We changed the gear stack because we’re on the (rev) limiter. But we’re happy at the moment. I just have to kind of focus on what I have to do and make sure that I’m flawless. It’s never easy around this place.” (How long have you been working on this opportunity?): “Well, I’ve wanted to race for Sam (Schmidt) since 2011, so I guess it’s been in the works for a long time. But no, I was wanting to do the ‘500,’ well, ever since what happened at the beginning of the year happened. So it hasn’t been long in the making, but I think I was persistent enough. I’m just massively grateful to Sam and to Ric (Peterson) for the opportunity.”
BUDDY LAZIER: “It’s really about the team. They did a great job. Very small amount of time. A lot of hard work, a lot of heart. We were sweating today. Temperature was going up, everybody was struggling.” (About driving in this generation of IZOD IndyCar Series car for first time this week): “It’s a great car, but it’s a huge learning curve. I just really enjoy being here. Big learning curve, but a lot of fun, too. We never were trying to qualify on the pole, so we’ve been doing a lot of three-quarter tank runs. We think we have a pretty good race car.” Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy