IndyCar: What Qualifying Feels Like to Some Drivers
Today will be the biggest qualifying effort of the NTT INDYCAR Series season. The Indy 500 is the Superbowl for this series and The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
What does it feel like to go out and ran a car as fast as you can on the four turn, two and a half mile track?
AR1 asked Takuma Sato, two time Indianapolis 500 winner and the fastest car in the field for practice times, to explain what it feels like to him.
“It is a mixture of massive pressure as well as excitement too. As a race car driver, you want to go as fast as possible. There is an opportunity you can squeeze out of everything from the car and yourself and go as fast as possible.”
“Which is exciting but at the same time is risky. The risk versus real world too, that if you get too greedy for the balance to go to the minimum scrub, there is a high chance that you will slide, and you lose control also. ”
“There is always high pressure. You don’t want to lose any position or time but at the same time, you want to go as fast as possible.”
Scott Dixon Photo courtesy of Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski
Sato teammate, Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner, has had the pole the last two years in a row. The New Zelander is going for this third pole in a row, which would be a first.
Dixon replied to the question of what does qualifying feel to him. “I think it is a lot of different things. Because of the process now. You try not to practice in the morning because it overheats the car. Your first real laps are when you first go out.”
“I think it is very emotional, very up and down. Depending on the weather conditions. Depending on what you think you have. Whether you have a fast car or you don’t have a car that can make the field. Definitely a unique situation for everybody, depending on the day and depending on the run.”
‘It has always been difficult, whether you are racing for the pole or the front row. It has never been easy.”
AR1 spoke with another Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, the 2021 Series champion, Alex Palou about his insight.
“I would say it is the toughest or the most pressured moments in our career. The tension you have, you know the risk that you are taking when you are trying to go fast. Basically we are just trimming the car and making it faster on the straights but less grippy on the corners. So we know we are on the edge.”
“But at the same time, It is one of the best moments or probably THE best moment of the season. It is just the tension. You know you have four laps. And you know each lap will change. It is a moment that I wait a full year to get there.”
“It is a good tension but you know about the race and the speed that you are going. And how precise you need to be. And you are in the hands of the car and the conditions. So it is a tension that I love because you feel really deep in yourself. Honestly, it is a hell of a good moment for me.”
Will Power, Team Penske driver of the No 12 Verizon and the 2018 winner, had this to say about qualifying.
“I would you could compare qualifying to the nerves a person would have if you had some big fear of speaking or some big kind of presentation to make, It would be kinda that sort of lead up. But in the car, it is like not else in the world. It is insane.”
“There is some pressure. To get in the Top 12 is our biggest goal. If you have a car that could go for pole. And you are sorta the last one to go out, you would feel the pressure.”
Qualifying starts at 11 am, which is just moments away.
Lucille Dust reporting live from Indianapolis