Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday Morning Indy 500 Thoughts

So far, it’s been pretty quiet for the week leading up to Qualifying Weekend out at the Speedway. Of course, the Ganassi cars have been impressive, but so has Alex Tagliani, both Panther drivers, and yes, Ed Carpenter. Other teams, like Coyne and Conquest, haven’t yet found the speed they’re looking for.

It’s so odd to think that 7 of these drivers are going home after Sunday, isn’t it? Right now, they’re all practicing, the livery is bright, the teams are pushing as hard as they can, and then after Sunday—boom. It’s over. It’s strange and a bit sad when you really think about it, but that’s Indy. Hopes and dreams will be realized at the same time others are dashed. It’s the reason I’m going to simultaneously love and hate Bump Day at about 6pm on Sunday.

Honestly, though, it’s still too early to see who’s really dialed-in. “Getting it” or “losing it” at Indy can happen quickly, and not always for any apparent reason. It’s common to make a snap judgment, especially out of impatience. But as I’ve said before, Indy’s going to make anyone who tries to predict just how things will go look foolish at least once during the month.

Wheldon and BHA are still ramping up, but look good doing it.
(IndyCar Media)

One important factor we need to consider is that both Pole Day and Bump Day might be at least 20 degrees hotter than most of practice so far. Of all the days this week, it’s looking like Fast Friday is going to be the closest temperature-wise to what we’ll see this weekend, but we’ll also have to see about cloud cover and rain.

As the temperatures warm in the next couple days, we might get a better idea of where some of these teams truly are. You’d expect the Penske and Target Ganassi drivers in the Top 9, but outside of that, it’s a crap shoot. Honestly, right now, Tagliani, Hildebrand, Rice, Carpenter, Servia, Baguette, Rahal, and several others have to be at least considered candidates, based on the limited amount we’ve seen so far. I also won't be surprised if Marco Andretti is the fastest Andretti Autosport qualifier--though where he lands in the pecking order is still a bit more hazy.

Hopefully the temps will rise, the sun will peek out, and the next few days will give us a bit more to talk about. A well-known fact to all IndyCar fans is that the work weeks before quals and the race itself are the longest ones of the year. You're not alone; hang in there!

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