20 May 2012
Indy 500: Bump Day completes 33-car grid
After that it was Sebastien Bourdais' turn in the Dragon car, and for someone who only got to use his new Chevrolet engine for the first time on Thursday, it was an impressive performance: 223.760mph (2:40.8666s) would have been good enough for 15th place if he'd posted it on Saturday, which would have set him ahead of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti on the starting grid for the race.
"The run was good, I just wish it had been yesterday, and we'd be quite a bit higher up on the grid!" he agreed. "We haven't really changed the car at all. The balance has been good. The speed varied a lot from Saturday, and we can't quite figure out why."
After that it was the turn of his team mate Katherine Legge, who posted an aggregate lap speed of 221.624mph (2:42.4374s) some one and a half seconds off Bourdais - but more importantly, safely on the grid.
"It's definitely a massive relief after the week or two that we've had!" the English racer said. "We basically qualified our race car. We haven't had time on track to work on qualifying setup or anything like that, so we needed to find a car that was easy to drive at this stage.
"I am a rookie, and the team did a good job of giving me a very solid, very stable race car," she added. "I'm pretty sure that it's very close to the car that we will race."
Next up was the first of the three drivers who had crashed on Pole Day, Oriol Servia in the Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold car. This time there were no fireworks and he posted a qualifying speed of 222.393mph (2:41.8754s).
"We just wanted to make sure we had a solid effort to get it into the race. Obviously, to win the race, you have to be in it first. We wanted to accomplish that," said Servia, who last year qualified on the front row of the grid with Newman/Haas. But he didn't think he was at much of a disadvantage with his position this year toward the back of the grid.
"Probably more than any other race, the guy that's on pole doesn't win it," he said. "We would prefer to start on the front row like last year - it makes your race a lot easier, especially the first half - but we're going to make it interesting. We're going to start at the back and move forward."
Wade Cunningham was next up with a lap speed of 223.258mph (2:41.2484s) more than enough to get the job done.
"We are safely in the field, and we can start working on race setup ... It was nice to go out and get in the field," he said. But he was still irked at having been bumped from the top 24 late on Pole Day. "It's disappointing because, from my side, instead of doing the maximum, we're basically doing the minimum to get in, and that's not how I enjoy racing. We didn't come here to be field-fillers."
Talking of field-fillers ... No, that's unkind. Jean Alesi might only have posted a sluggish 210.094mph (2:51.3516s) but that was hardly representative of the Fan Force United's real potential, even with the high profile problems being experienced by the Lotus engine at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It simply did the job with the minimum of risk.
Simona de Silvestro
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