INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Bump Day at Indianapolis followed the script.
No surprises, no drama and no drivers getting bumped.
On a day devoid of tension and rumors, all nine drivers who made attempts on the second and final day of Indianapolis 500 qualifications made it into the 33-car field, led by two young Americans _ Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal _ who easily had the two fastest cars on the track.
“I don’t want to sound too confident, but I knew we would be fine,” Newgarden said after delivering the day’s best qualifying run at 225.731 mph. “I think we would have been OK yesterday if we would have had another shot at it.”
The lone twist might have come if Mexico’s Michel Jourdain Jr. actually made a qualifying attempt to get in the race. But after failing to top 220 mph in practice, the discouraged Jourdain had his car towed back to Gasoline Alley.
Newgarden’s chance came after he failed to get a second shot to make it in Saturday when he sitting in qualifying line as the gun sounded at 6 p.m. He had to wait another 18 hours and this time, he left no doubt that he belonged. His qualifying speed from Sunday would have been good enough for 21st, the outside of Row 7, if it happened a day earlier. Instead, he’ll start 25th, the inside of Row 9.
Rahal struggled all week _ and not just because he was using a Honda engine. The nine drivers in the first three rows of the three-car, 11-row grid are all powered by Chevrolets. The top Honda qualifier was Canadian Alex Tagliani, the 2011 Indy pole-sitter. He’ll start 11th, the middle of Row 4, after going 227.386.
Rahal, who drives for his father, Bobby, couldn’t quite get his car right. But when it mattered Sunday, Rahal easily made it in with an average speed of 225.007 to claim the No. 26 starting spot _ the middle of Row 9.
“I’ve certainly had better (weeks), I’ve certainly had some that were more challenging,” Rahal said after locking up his sixth straight Indy start. “But there have been some mysteries behind a lot of our speed problems. I think the first few days people thought we were being extremely slow, but really we were just being really conservative.”
They were the lucky ones.
Conor Daly, Buddy Lazier and Katherine Legge spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out how to get more speed _ if they had to re-qualify their cars.
Daly had a tough week. After flying back from two races in Spain, the airline lost his HANS device, and after Thursday’s crash A.J. Foyt’s crew had to rebuild Daly’s car. They were working overtime again Saturday night after Daly’s first qualifying attempted was derailed by puffs of smoke coming out of the rear end of the No. 41 car. But the 21-year-old rookie from suburban Indy returned to the 2.5-mile oval Sunday and put his car on the inside of Row 11 with an average of 223.582.
“I have to thank the crew for all they’ve done,” Daly said. “I think they had the car apart at least 15 times after the crash and the problems we had (Saturday),” Daly said. “We got the engine back at about 8:30 last night and they worked late getting it back in.”
The first nine drivers all qualified on their first attempts, assuring race organizers of a full field. Nobody else even made an attempt.