Photo Credit: Medium
After two days of tension and speed, qualifications for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 wrapped up Sunday with Simon Pagenaud grabbing the pole with a blistering four-lap average of 229.992 MPH just edging out 3-time Indy 500 Pole Sitter and hometown favorite, Ed Carpenter in the Fast Nine shootout. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from the two days. (Full qualifying results at the bottom)
On his first qualifying run Saturday, James Hinchcliffe lost control of his car and slammed into the turn 2 wall destroying his car. What followed was nothing short of historic and magical. The #5 team immediately began preparing the backup car, a road course car that had to have dozens of parts switched and adjusted to drive properly around Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Miraculously, the team was able to have the car prepared and back in the qualifying queue in just over an hour, allowing Hinchcliffe to make another run at locking himself into the field. Though he did not lock himself in on Saturday, Hinch set the early pace of the “Bump Day” group on Sunday and will start 31stin the Indianapolis 500.
Started by Argentine immigrant Ricardo Juncos, the small Juncos Racing outfit was left without at primary sponsor for their car on the first day of practice last week. The team was expected by many to either pull out of the race, but they stuck to the program and made the field. What makes their story even better is that driver Kyle Kaiser crashed his primary car during Friday practice and was forced into his backup, road course car. Though Kaiser and Juncos Racing will be starting 33rdin the Indianapolis 500, they were able to beat out big money team McLaren and racing legend Fernando Alonso for the final starting spot on the grid to the surprise of fans and media everywhere.
I could write a whole essay about McLaren’s failures in Formula 1 over the last seven or so years, but their failure to make the field for the Indianapolis 500 far outweighs their mistakes on the European Grand Prix circuit. McLaren had one of the greatest motorsport drivers of all time, a team of championship-winning engineers and mechanics and practically unlimited funds to build a car and team capable of winning the race and they couldn’t even make the field. Fernando Alonso battled through his four laps with a car who’s setup he had never driven before and missed out on being in the race by 0.019 MPH over his and Kaiser’s four-lap averages. McLaren was never able to find a balanced setup in the race or qualifying trim and lost an entire day preparing the backup car after Alonso crashed during Wednesday practice, a feat even more embarrassing considering Hinchcliffe had a fresh car in an hour and Juncos were able to prepare a car overnight for Saturday qualifying.
If the Indianapolis 500 has even half the drama of qualifying it will be a fantastic race. From Pagenaud’s somewhat unlikely pole win to big money Mclaren losing out to sponsorless Juncos, Saturday and Sunday were two great days for motorsport. With less than a week to go until the 103rdIndianapolis 500 the real fun is just getting started.
Row 1: Simon Pagenaud, Ed Carpenter, Spencer Pigot
Row 2: Ed Jones, Colton Herta, Will Power*
Row 3: Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi*
Row 4: Marco Andretti, Conor Daly, Helio Castroneves*
Row 5: Marcus Ericsson, Takuma Sato*, James Davison
Row 6: Tony Kanaan*, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon*
Row 7: Oriol Servia, Charlie Kimball, JR Hildebrand,
Row 8: Ryan Hunter-Reay*, Santino Ferrucci, Matheus Leist
Row 9: Jack Harvey, Jordan King, Ben Hanley
Row 10: Zach Veach, Felix Rosenqvist, Pippa Mann
Row 11: Sage Karam, James Hinchcliffe, Kyle Kaiser
Indianapolis 500 Champions distinguished by *