INDIANAPOLIS 500 - Jay Howard Goes, 226,7 MPH in Practice
INDIANAPOLIS -RIS -May 19,2017- Fast Friday, the last day of practice before what is technically the first day of qualifications for the Indy 500 Mile Race, and what is maybe the dumbest day in all of racing.
Yesterday, the weather was significantly better than the middle of the week. For the first time this month all 33 entries were on track with the appearance of Buddy Lazier’s number 44 Dallara, as the forty nine year old, past race winner, took only one lap of the 2.5 mile oval at a speed of 8.494 MPH. Yes, eight MPH! Not to worry Lazier fans, he will qualify even if he does not go faster.
Jay Howard, driving for Sam Schmidt Racing set the pace on Thursday with a eye popping, 226.744 MPH, that with massive tow as there were about 20 cars on track at the time. He was followed by Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, nearly a mile-an-hour slower, at 225.826.
The first incident of the day occurred as Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden made hard contact with the wall with a very late spin on exit from turn one. Newgarden was shaken, but was checked and cleared by the IU infield care center. Both sides of the car were heavily damaged.
Rookie of the year (our predication) Fernando Alonso, turning 96 laps with a top speed of 225.619 MPH.
Hondas had the top four spots, 8 of the top 10, however, they did experience their fourth blown engine of the month as Graham Rahal stopped on track with a massive oil leak.
Getting back to, in or opinion, what the absurdity of what qualifications at Indy have become, today, for the first time teams will have added power as boost levels will be increased by about 15 to 20 horsepower. The oddity of this is this increase is only in affect for today, Saturday and Sunday, not for the race. Everything goes back to normal for Carb Day and Race day.
We ask, what is the point? What does this mean? Faster speeds today, and this weekend, with no real relevance in the race. Every car will make the race as there are only 33 cars here.
Do not get this wrong, qualifications are very important here at Indy, teams do want to start near the front of the field, for reasons like, it is safer in case something happens at the start, the prestige of starting on the pole or front row, and of course the points awarded toward the season long championship.
However, the first day, Saturday, each car must take at least one run, the fastest nine, earn their way into “group two” on Sunday, at 5:00 pm with the chance to compete for the Pole. All the rest, “group one”, have their Saturday times erased and have to “re-qualify” on Sunday for their actual starting spot. This will be done between 2:00 and 4:30 pm.
Okay, if you still follow that, keep in mind championship points are awarded for starting spots at Indy and are very important to the 20 some cars competing for the season championship.
The weather today is pretty iffy. Heavy rain came through the area earlier this morning, radar is showing a line of heavy storms heading this way. Practice is scheduled to start at noon, if the track is dry we expect everyone out to take advantage with what may be the only dry time of the day.