20 May 2012
Indy 500: Bump Day completes 33-car grid
"It's a big relief for me to finally get into this race," said the former Ferrari F1 driver. "We've had all week to work on it, and obviously we now have the car in the race.
"I'm glad, but I really was expecting more speed from the car," he admitted. "That was all we could get, and we took it. We have to work now on the race situation," he said. adding: "I have learned more in one week here than I did in my entire F1 career."
Next up was Bryan Clauson, who like Servia had crashed on Saturday. The shoestring Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team had worked through the night to repair the extensive damage to the #39 to give the USAC National Drivers champion a second shot at making his first Indy 500. The crew had even left a Band-Aid on the repaired sidepod as a momento; fortunately the IZOD IndyCar officials didn't deem it an aerodynamic aid.
"That's what got them through the night, I guess, knowing that when I walked in in the morning I was going to see that and laugh," said Clauson.
"It kind of snuck up on us yesterday," he said of the previous day's accident. "The car had been comfortable the whole run. If you would have stopped me at the flag stand on the third lap, I probably wouldn't have changed a thing. It just got away from us there in Turn 1 and kind of put us in a little bit of a bind."
He'd been running well into the 223mph speeds when he crashed, so a terminally safe Bump Day effort of 214.455mph (2:47.6671s) was by contrast rather underwhelming, for Clauson as much as anyone else.
"Obviously when you have a run like we did yesterday [and then] come back today and go run that, you're not excited," he admitted. "It's a product of just needing to get four laps in and putting something that was safe on the car and making sure we didn't have another incident like we did yesterday."
Clauson's qualifying run was eight of the nine yet to make it onto the grid. That left Ed Carpenter, the man who'd done the most damage to his car in a Pole Day crash. It was so bad, the team needed to activate the backup car and needed a little more time to get ready, so the track was turned over to anyone on pit road who wanted to have some practice time. Finally, 45 minutes later at just before 2pm, Carpenter was ready for his run - and went out and put in a perfectly decent 222.324mph (2:41.9262s) effort in the resurrected #20T.
"The whole month hasn't gone as you script them," admitted the owner-driver. "I think I've been lucky for quite a few years to have a pretty seamless month of May. You never know with Indianapolis, when it is going to decide it's your turn for a bad month. Things change quickly around here."
But he was safely on the grid, and that was all that mattered. Everyone was. And since none of the nine could do any better than 25th place, there was no point in doing anything risky, like withdrawing the time in order to try improving it a position or two. Qualifying was done for 2012.
Simona de Silvestro
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