Indy 500 Qualifying

By A.J. Foyt

Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 has always been the race within the race and it comes with its own kind of drama. This year most of the drama happened well before Pole Day as people started talking about how the new cars weren’t as fast and there would be problems filling the field of 33.

Well it turned out that the cars were almost as fast as last year in qualifying (226 mph to last year’s 227) because the officials gave the teams an extra 40-50 horsepower. They took it away after qualifying because they want to put less strain on the engines for 500 miles.

There were enough cars to fill the field. This is my 55th straight race and I’ve never seen them start less than 33 cars—they’ve started more but never less. There were plenty of cars and drivers—there just weren’t that many engines. I’m pretty sure if cars were needed to fill the field, the engines to power those cars would have appeared even if it put more strain on the engine manufacturers.

I just look back at 2006 when two manufacturers pulled out at the end of 2005 and Honda stepped up to supply the whole field. You don’t forget things like that…at least I don’t.

We had our own drama in the AJ Foyt Racing garage but it didn’t happen until Pole Day. Our opening week of practice had been pretty quiet with Mike Conway, driver of my ABC Supply No. 14 Honda, and rookie Wade Cunningham, who is driving the ECat/ABC Supply No. 41 Honda.

Cunningham, from New Zealand, is no stranger to Indy because he’s won the Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race there three times. But it will be his first time racing Indy cars.