Has there been anything more representative of the roller coaster of 202 than this weekend’s qualifications? No fans. Day one ended with two rookies in the Fast 9 and only one Chevy. Oh there were also no Penske drivers at all. Most surprising, a pole was snatched from Scott Dixon: and not by Will Power. Sure we weren’t there to experience it, but this was quite the weekend.
The concern for Chevys started on Fast Friday. Looking at both the tow and non-tow speed charts (if you’re not sure what those words mean, I discussed in the Qualification Preview which you can read here) Chevy was not doing great. Outnumbered in the top 10s. The Chevy cars were in and out of pits and the garages trying everything to get speed and it wasn’t happening. Sure some thought to perhaps they were sandbagging, and Saturday we’d all eat our words of concern…that didn’t happen.
The actual format of qualifications didn’t change, but it felt off. They ended an hour earlier, which didn’t give a good run when the track was a bit cooler. No one used the non-priority line, and after everyone had gone out, no one bumped into the Fast 9. Here is my thought: if you’re all ready in the Fast 9 and you go out multiple times in the non-priority line…should you withdraw your time? Sato and Dixon went out multiple times, and in fact Dixon even waived off a few different runs. Meanwhile there was a line of cars ready to go…plus there were a few times where there were cars in line but they weren’t going. We were watching on Gold, but were they holding cars for commercials? Saturday ended with three out of five Andretti Autosport cars in the Fast 9 (with Colton Herta coming in at 10), and young Rinus VeeKay the only Chevy representative.
Sunday morning I walked outside and felt a strong breeze whip across my front yard. A breeze that hadn’t been there yesterday. That made everything topsy-turvy. For the morning practice only the Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars went out, and Graham Rahal was not pleased! Takuma Sato was the first car out, and completed a rare feat for the weekend: his second lap was quicker than the first. He was followed by his RLLR teammate Graham who still had a loose car. Then the first rookie, Alex Palou, was set to have a great run but his weight jacker stopped working. Which that’s a new issue. Then VeeKay, two rookies back to back we all clenched. Then young Rinus showed us all up. Popping up to second. Of course Scott Dixon came out and did Dixon things, hitting two consecutive laps of 231.
After Dixon it was time for Andretti Autosport to show up…and it was also time for the wind to shift (welcome to Indiana ya’ll). Hinchcliffe was okay, Rossi broke my heart, and RHR couldn’t quite nail all four laps. Then it was Marco. The below video just shows the reaction to Marco Andretti snagging the pole from Scott Dixon. Also I’m in love with the brother-ship among the Andretti Autosport teammates.
Finally, only Scott Dixon would crash in practice and yet go back out there and at one time be top of the speed charts. However the day ended with Marco back on top of the speed charts. The series only has one practice before the race on Carb Day. On Sunday, it’s going to be Honda v. Chevy.
I guarantee you we’ll be talking this during episodes of our podcast. You can subscribe by visiting our subscribe page: www.fastcarsfastgirls.com/subscribe