AJ FOYT RACING - First Day Qualifying Report – Indianapolis 500
INDIANAPOLIS May 21, 2016—The first day of qualifying for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 normally would set the field of 33 cars but with just 33 entries in this year’s race, the focus shifted to determining who would be in in the Fast Nine shootout tomorrow afternoon.
Although the AJ Foyt Racing team will not be among the contenders for the Fast Nine session based on today’s results, the team will use tomorrow’s 30-minute practice sessions to determine if the setup on Takuma Sato’s No. 14 ABC Supply Honda will suit both Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani.
In today’s provisional qualifying session, Sato ran a four-lap average speed of 228.096mph which put him 16th on the provisional grid of 33.
“I’m so pleased to be back here and have an opportunity to be in the 100th Running,” said Sato after his run. “Having said that, as my teammate Alex [Tagliani] probably explained to you, we’ve been struggling. To be honest, we had back and forth and difficult days, particularly this morning as we weren’t even able to run properly. There was a bit of discussion as to what we were going to do [in qualifying]. Obviously the weather change is really challenging for everyone but for us in particular, we found it really difficult. I was just so happy we put everything together for my qualifying laps. It wasn’t necessarily the happiest [run] but we put together a decent speed under the circumstance. Hopefully if there is an opportunity, we can go back out again in the afternoon.”
Sato did not get back out to make another run but the team will have a chance to practice before tomorrow’s final qualifying session.
Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani struggled during their qualifying runs as they were not happy with their cars.
“The car wasn’t very fast,” said Hawksworth, who posted a four-lap average of 225.388mph in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda which was the 28th quickest. “The car can definitely get faster. I think the 14 car had the right idea on set up. I think we could put what they had on theirs onto mine and see where it gets us. We’ve been on the back foot so far this week. We’ve struggled a little bit the past few days, but it seems Takuma found something, so we’ll sit down with him and figure out what he’s doing.”
Tagliani also had trouble during his run in which he posted a four-lap average speed of 224.507mph. The team made changes to his car with the thought that they would be able to get another run in.
“It’s disappointing to be where we are,” said Tagliani. “We’re going to try something now before the end of the day to give us a direction and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to salvage a better performance.”
Although Tagliani never did get back on track in the final and frenetic hour of qualifying, he will be able to evaluate the changes in tomorrow’s 30-minute practice session which precedes final qualifying. The practice sessions will be divided into three groups beginning with cars in positions 22-33, then 10-21 and finally the Fast Nine.
Qualifications begin at 2:45 in reverse order of where they qualified, so the 33rd car will go out first. Drivers in Group 1 (positions 10-33) will make one attempt, and the best they can shoot for is 10th.
Drivers in the Fast Nine are: James Hinchcliffe, who posted the fastest four-lap average speed today of 230.946mph. Second through ninth were: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Townsend Bell, Josef Newgarden, Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Munoz, and Simon Pagenaud. The Fast Nine will each get one qualifying attempt in their run for the Verizon Pole Award from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
ESPN 3 will broadcast the first part of qualifying from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Then ABC-TV will air the final two hours starting at 4 p.m.