INDIANAPOLIS — The qualifying session for the Indianapolis 500 was delayed by strong thunderstorms but with a modified plan, officials were able to get the field set for the 101st Running of the Indy 500.
The session began at 4 p.m. ET with all drivers allowed one four-lap qualifying attempt; the average speed determined the Firestone Fast 9 for tomorrow and race day pit selection (fastest team gets first choice with next fastest being allowed to select next). Tomorrow’s qualifying runs will determine the actual grid positions for all 33 cars. Positions 10 through 33 will be determined by runs starting at 2:45 p.m. ET with the Fast 9 scheduled to start at 5 p.m. ET.
Conor Daly was the first out for the ABC Supply team, going out a “lucky” 13th in the line. He qualified 27th with an average speed of 225.912mph.
“A positive thing for us is that that was our best single car run we’ve done all month,” said Daly. “You know, I think we improved the car mechanically. It was pretty easy to do that run, so hopefully we can just take some downforce out of it tomorrow and be more competitive because I think the car mechanically was in a better position there. I’ve been begging to take downforce off so hopefully now tomorrow we can do that and just get a good run out of it.”
A spectacular crash halted activity when Sebastien Bourdais lost control of his car in Turn 2 and hit the SAFER barrier very hard and flipped before coming to a rest at the exit of Turn 2. Bourdais was awake and alert but was transported to Methodist Hospital. He underwent surgery this evening for multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip.
Carlos Munoz was one of the last cars to make attempt, going out 29th in the line. Munoz was 23rd fastest with an average speed of 227.438mph.
“It was quite a long day for just one run,” Munoz said. “The car didn't feel bad, just a little bit slow. Our goal today was to go through and see our speed and see what we can do tomorrow. I think we need to find more speed tomorrow at least a little.”
Rookie Zach Veach did not make a qualifying run today due to his crash in practice late Friday afternoon. Veach was not injured when he lost control of the purple and white-liveried car and hit the wall in Turn 1 and skittered into the Turn 2 wall before coming to a stop towards the infield. The car sustained extensive damage to the right side, undertray and also broke the engine. The car was able to be repaired as the tub was not damaged.
Asked about the accident afterwards, Veach said, “Overall, I’m extremely disappointed that we had the accident so close to qualifying. We’d been making such progress all day, and for this to happen I feel badly for the entire crew and A.J. of course. Still trying to figure out what happened. At this point I’m thinking maybe it was a gust of wind. The entry to the middle of the corner felt perfectly fine like the runs before and then extremely late in the corner, the car just turned really suddenly. So we need to have a good look at everything to see exactly what was the cause, but with where it happened and particularly how things were feeling then, it caught me out by surprise.”
Although the car was repaired in time to qualify this afternoon, it was not ready for the 8-10 a.m. practice session this morning. “There was no way we would send Zach out without a practice run under his belt given the extent of repairs the team had to do,” Team Director George Klotz explained. “That is why we decided last night to focus on Sunday qualifying.”
Veach will participate in the 45-minute practice session at noon tomorrow. Automatically included in Group 1 (10th through 33rd), Veach will make his qualifying run in the No. 40 IWiT Champ Chevrolet tomorrow to determine his place in the 33-car field. Qualifying for Group 1 will be broadcast on ESPN3 from 2 – 4 pm ET. ABC will begin its two-hour qualifying show at 4 p.m. ET.