Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Indy 500: Field is Full; Jimmy Kite Bumped Out in Final Qualifying

Let's go racing!

Bump Day at Indianapolis this year was anticlimactic after thousands of laps of running during two weeks of practice where less than four hours of green light time was lost to Mother Nature. Jimmy Kite was the only driver bumped out after taking a qualifying run Saturday of just more than 214, and the small PDM team had to take its beautiful car home after repairing it from a crash earlier in the week.

Phil Giebler got in the show after his Saturday crash, while Richie Hearn got the car that Jon Herb had originally crashed Tuesday of the first week of practice and was very impressive in qualifying after a minimal number of laps in his first time in a race car since the 2005 Indy 500. And wily veteran Roberto Moreno pulled a rabbit out of the hat, as the team withdrew their Saturday qualifying time and found 4 more mph to safely round out the field. I'm sure Marty Roth was happy as he ended up on the bubble with no serious challengers as Kite was stuck in the 214's and PJ Jones almost crashed twice in Turn 2 wrestling an evil handling car before calling it a month without ever presenting the car for qualifying.

So now we wait for Carb Day Friday and what many of us live for: the Greatest Spectacle in Racing this Sunday. 500 Miles at over 200 mph. 7 or 8 pit stops. Backmarkers by lap 15. Newcomers like Milka Duno who have little experience on ovals. And the juggernauts at the front: Target Ganassi, Penske and Andretti Green Racing. The winner is likely to come from one of these three teams, but again, keep an eye on Ryan Briscoe!

From the full tank runs I saw, watch for the cars bottoming out and shedding showers of sparks on full tanks and cold tires. To stay at the front, contenders will need to run consistently around 220, and there are some like Wheldon, Hornish and Kanaan who were able to rip off laps in the 224-225 range during race prep runs the last few days. So it should be another historic day Sunday. You should be here. Feel the breeze and smell the ethanol exhaust as they fly by on the opening lap. Trains of 10 cars or more rolling nose to tail. Noise like you've never heard or felt, all the way to your bones. You just can't get that on TV folks.

Of course, I'll be pulling for Sam Hornish Jr. to make it two in a row.

To see all the cars in this year's 500, go to www.flickr.com/photos/indyjay42 and enjoy.


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