With just 33 cars attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, the tension of getting bumped was missing — as were the fans who generate the buzz around the most famed track in the world.
Inside the cockpit, however, it is still the most nerve-wracking four laps in motorsports as drivers contend with slippery track conditions at over 230 mph.
With qualifying starting sharply at 11 a.m., the track temperature was the coolest it would be all day which worked well for rookie driver Dalton Kellett who went out third in line to qualify. After putting in a solid, mistake-free run, he will line up 24th, outside of the eighth row.
“Really excited, really happy that we got that solid run in,” Kellett said afterwards. “Went off the order third, so the track was nice and cool. The car felt great for all four laps. It was good to get lots of practice in the heat yesterday when it was slippery, moving around but I ended up getting a solid platform for this morning after a couple changes. Looking at the times maybe we could have been a bit more aggressive on our mechanical balance, but we’ve really had the focus this week for the race which is what we’re looking ahead for. It’s what we devoted most of our time to, so I think being conservative in qualifying was always our plan. But very happy to get that run in and looking forward to practice on Sunday.”
Kellett will start 24th alongside teammate Tony Kanaan in row eight.
For Charlie Kimball in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet, his four-lap run turned into a nail-biter because his left rear tire blistered giving him a “big moment” in Turn 4. The team is sifting through the data trying to find the cause especially since the car was nearly identical to the other two cars in setup. Kimball, who went out later in the day to make another attempt after the team switched out some things, returned to the pits without ever taking a warmup lap and said the problem was still there. Further investigation is needed. He will start 29th in the middle of row 10.
“It was a challenging run for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet but the A.J. Foyt Racing guys have been good all week,” said Kimball. “I know the car is good in race trim. We just have to figure out exactly what happened in those four laps. Got pretty busy in turn four on lap four, so it’s about a four-lap average here unfortunately – not one or not two. We’ll work on it, figure out what’s going on and be better for tomorrow.”
Kimball had a mechanical issue on his run and will start 29th.
The grand master of ovals and 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan told Larry Foyt that his No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet is one of the best handling cars he’s ever driven here. He will be starting 23rd after posting a four-lap average speed of 229.154mph. Kanaan knows a lot of things can happen in a 500 mile race.
“Well, a little bit disappointing,” said Kanaan of his speed which was affected by the track temperature since he went out 29th in the qualifying order. “I think we could have been in the top 15 — the car was pretty comfortable. We concentrated a lot on the race setup and the car is actually pretty decent in race trim, so just a few more cars to pass but all in all the temperature didn’t help us. Of course, we would liked to have drawn an earlier (qualifying) number but that’s just the luck of the draw so it is what it is but we’re ready for next weekend.”
Kanaan will start his 19th straight Indy 500 in 2020.
Marco Andretti won the provisional pole with a speed of 231.351mph. The Fast Nine will requalify tomorrow to determine their starting positions for the 500. Afterwards, all teams will have a 2.5 hour practice in the afternoon to work on race set up.
The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast Sunday, August 23rd on NBC with pre-race coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!