INDIANAPOLIS- Temperatures in the high 80’s made qualifying for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 a difficult task for drivers. At 1:15pm, Firestone engineers measured the track temperature at 123 degrees with an ambient temperature of 86 degrees. The slick conditions created by the high temperatures may be responsible for two accidents during qualifying.
At noon, rookie Bryan Clauson of Noblesville tried to become the 10th qualifier of the day, and started with three solid laps until an accident in Turn 1 on the final lap of his attempt. “We felt like we had a great run and really fell on the safe side for most of the run, and it just got away from us,” said Clauson, “I got into (Turn) 1 and it snapped right around on us.” NBC Sports Network reported that Sarah Fisher Hartman/Curb Agajanian will try to fix the primary car that was involved in the crash.
Later in the afternoon, Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter hit the wall in Turn 2 in his second qualifying attempt of the day. Carpenter had been the slowest qualifier of the day. “It wasn’t good, this is my ninth Indy, and that’s the worst qualifying effort I’ve ever had,” said Carpenter of his first run. Following the accident, Carpenter was checked and released from the IU Health Emergency Medical Center at IMS and is cleared to drive.
Tony Kanaan was the first qualifier of the afternoon with a four lap average of 225.100, but later had the run disqualified when the car failed a post-race technical inspection. According to Kanaan, the car was one pound underweight because of a missing weight that was supposed to go inside the mirror to simulate the weight of an on-board camera. “We win as a team, and we lose as a team,” said 10-time qualifier Kanaan, “My guys were all crying and they knew they let me down, but many times, I let them down. We get stronger when we have mistakes like this happening and we get back together. Kanaan later went out and qualified in the top nine slightly slower at 224.751.
The fastest of the 24 qualifiers was Andretti Autosport driver James Hichcliffe with a four lap average of 225.746 including a fast lap of 226.026. “Qualifying at Indy is the most terrifying 10 miles of your life,” said the 25-year old from Toronto, “you’re holding your breath the whole time, you don’t blink, you’re just nervous for the entire run, your foot shakes on the throttle pedal trying to keep it down.”
Penske driver and IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power was second at 225.399. “It was probably one of the best runs we’ve had,” said Power, “I didn’t expect to be that quick.” Ryan Hunter-Reay was third quickest at 225.289.
Eight of the top nine were Chevy powered cars with Josef Newgarden the lone Honda engine. The fastest nine qualifiers will make an additional run at 4:30 to sort out the nine spots.
Top Nine Qualifiers:
27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport
12 Will Power Team Penske
28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport
3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske
2 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske
11 Tony Kanaan KV Racing Technology
26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport
67 Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
5 E.J. Viso KV Racing Technology