Pole Day At Indy: The Buzz Is Back: Big Time

SPEEDWAY, IN: Every now and then, a plan really comes together. That was the case Saturday on Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when a combination of beautiful weather and an all-new “Fast Nine Shootout” qualification format did wonders to bring true excitement back to Indy.

After a dreary and damp week of practice leading up to yesterday’s run for the pole, Saturday provided sun and warmth…just what the doctor ordered. By the time the first round of time trials ended at 4 PM, the best Pole Day crowd in years was assembled. With Eddie Money performing rock ‘n roll in the background, the “Shootout” between the day’s nine fastest qualifiers began promptly at 4:30 PM.

The excitement came immediately, as defending Pole and Race winner Helio Castroneves pounded out laps in the 228 MPH range, fastest of the month, completing a run that would prove to be the Pole winner. It was truly heartwarming to hear the explosive crowd reaction to Helio’s speeds. It’s been a long time since we can remember a Pole Day audience reacting in such a enthusiastic manner to a time trial run. To be part of a cheering mob at the Speedway again was an unexpected treat, bring back memories other Pole Days long past. It was a really neat feeling…

When the final gun fired at 6 PM, the first 24 spots in the starting line-up had been filled, featuring a front row consisting of four-time Pole winner Helio Castroneves, flanked by Penske teammate Will Power and Target-Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti. Castroneves will collect a check for 175K for his Pole winning efforts.

The speed was on the track, but the real show was in the grandstands, as the loud and enthusiastic crowd thoroughly enjoyed the proceedings. Sun, race cars and rock ‘n roll proved to be a winning combination.

During time trials prior to the “Shootout”, fan darling Danica Patrick created a huge buzz when she complained about her performance and her Andretti team on TV and the public address system. Basically, Miss Patrick said that her poor performance was “not my fault”.

Shortly after her run, Patrick talked to the media:

Q: Danica, you just don’t sound very confident in the security of your racecar.

DP: “Shoot! I say one confident thing out there that it’s not me, and everybody boos me. I’m blown away. These people, I mean. I don’t know, maybe they all booed me before. I would think that some of them have probably cheered for me before, and I’m not a different driver than I was five years ago. I don’t know if those people were here five years ago, but I got loose in (Turn) 1 and caught it and kept my foot down. So I can drive a loose car but this is beyond. Obviously.”

With a weather forecast of sunny and hot, the fun will resume Sunday, as Bump Day unfolds. Once the final nine grid positions are filled, the slowest car in the 33 car field will be “on the bubble”, and the bumping will begin.

It certainly appears that the Speedway has hit upon a winning formula for time trials. Now…if we can just figure a way to hear, “It’s a NEW TRACK RECORD” again…

Results of qualifying Saturday for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Rank, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 2:37.9154 (227.970)

2. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.1876 (227.578)

3. (10T) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.5970 (226.990)

4. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 2:38.9027 (226.554)

5. (77) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 2:39.0178 (226.390)

6. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 2:39.1277 (226.233)

7. (30) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 2:39.6319 (225.519)

8. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.3514 (224.507)

9. (06) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 2:41.0831 (223.487)

10. (99) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 2:39.9313 (225.097)

11. (22) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 2:39.9647 (225.050)

12. (2) Raphael Matos, Dallara-Honda, 2:39.9798 (225.028)

13. (32) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.0794 (224.888)

14. (21) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.1053 (224.852)

15. (24) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.2969 (224.583)

16. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.3030 (224.575)

17. (37) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.3227 (224.547)

18. (4) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.3821 (224.464)

19. (8T) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.4424 (224.380)

20. (23) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.5270 (224.261)

21. (25) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.5402 (224.243)

22. (78) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.5511 (224.228)

23. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.5584 (224.217)

24.(36) Bertrand Baguette, Dallara-Honda, 2:40.5785 (224.189)

Share Button