Saturday, May 19, 2007

Indy 500: Jimmy Kite Slowest with One Spot Open; Rookie Giebler Tags Turn 2 Fence

I have to admit this was a strange but wonderful qualifying day. And I must revise my bump speed prediction dramatically downward. After today's events where rookie Phil Giebler pushed up out of the groove in Turn 2 and slapped the wall following a lap over 221 during a qualifying attempot around 5:30, veteran Jimmy Kite accepted a qualifying run of a little more than 214 for the 32nd and slowest spot in the field near closing time. So rather than squeaking in with 219's, that speed looks pretty safe right now.

With the weather forecast for Sunday including a high of around 80, teams will need to thrash to find speed. Giebler should get in easily if his care can be repaired, then Kite becomes the target for people like PJ Jones, Richie Hearn (for Hemelgarn) and maybe even Larry Foyt if AJ decides to wheel a thirf Foyt car out of the garage. So there should be some bumping this year after all just to get in the race, and you never know who's walking around Gasoline Alley with helmet in hand ready to give it a go.

While I expect the top teams to run in packs again Sunday as they did today to test race trim, now the fight is just to get in the race for the lesser teams whose year revolves around just putting a car in the show. Anyone worried about their speed will be practicing too, and with each car having three attempts tomorrow, expect it to go right down to the wire at 6:00 like so many years before.

It should be a beautiful day for motor car racing - unless the slight chance of rain becomes a reality and then all bets are off as the team managers will watch the weather radar. Then the race will be just to get through tech and make a qualifying attempt.

See you in Turn 2!


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