Indianapolis 500 News & Notes
INDIANAPOLIS — Team Penske driver Will Power demonstrated his class on Pole Day. As Alex Tagliani got the checkered flag to end his pole winning qualifying run on Saturday, Power, who had been standing, and applauding as enthusiastically as the other spectators watching Tags’ run, made his way over to congratulate the crew, and then Tag when he climbed from the car.
-Simona De Silvestro’s fiery crash at the Speedway was the second crash in less than a year where she’s come away with burned hands. Typically, she’s worn the thinnest driving gloves possible within the rules, in order to have a better feel for the steering wheel. No more. From now on, she insists that she’ll wear the thickest gloves possible.
-On Pole Day, IMS historian Donald Davidson, helped organize a historic photo shoot with all the former pole winners who were at the track. The group accounted for 24 pole positions and 20 Indianapolis 500 wins. Said Donaldson, tongue in cheek after stressing while coordinating all the schedules and agendas to make the historic photo happen, “I never want to do that again! In fact, I don’t ever want to do anything involving people again!”
-Despite the precarious position she found herself in on Bump Day, Danica Patrick seemed unusually relaxed on pit lane. Normally focused to the point of scowling, she smiled, acknowledged well wishers, and posed on her golf cart for amateur photographers. She said later about her demeanor, “By that point I was thinking that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. That God had another plan for me.”
-While Mario Andretti was watching the turmoil his grandson, Marco, was enduring while trying to qualify, NSSN asked if he missed the pressure of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. “This,” he queried, with upturned palms. “I never had to do this, thank God. Qualifying was always a lot of pressure for me, but when you’re qualifying up front, its fun.”
-The Indianapolis Motor Speedway can be a tough, cruel place. Never more so this year, it seems, for full time drivers on the Indy car circuit. Five missed the cut, including two from Andretti Autosport, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Mike Conway. Sebastian Saavedra, Raphael Matos and James Jakes were the other three. The Speedway was especially hard on Conway. It tried to kill him last year, and kept him out this year.
-This year’s 33 car field is the closest in 500 history. The time from the fastest to the slowest qualifier is only 2.5399 seconds.
-Gutsy performances were in abundance during this year’s qualifying rounds. Simona De Silvestro finally got into the race on Saturday, on her third and final qualifying run for the day. Alex Lloyd, in a late hour run on Sunday, bumped his way in on his third and final attempt for the month. Danica Patrick’s ran 225 mph to bump her way in after waiting for hours to get a chance. She endured two rain delays, and, at one point, the car failed tech. Marco Andretti was probably the gutsiest. After being bumped, he got back on track 55 seconds before the closing gun sounded, and ran off four laps that were more than fast enough to get him in the race. About Marco’s run, Danica said to Robin Miller on the Versus TV coverage, “I think Marco became a man today.”
Perhaps they all became race car drivers. Indy has a way of doing that.
-Shane Hmiel, paralyzed in a devastating crash at the Terre Haute Action track last summer, was diagnosed with possibly being bed ridden for life with a vent tube. Not so. He was at the Speedway Sunday, holding court from his wheelchair in the C&R Racing hospitality room. He was full of life, looking forward to his duties as Grand Marshal for the Hoosier Hundred, and planning on walking on his own again. He wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts, encouragement and prayers.