Indy 500 Qualifying
May 17, 2007
Indy 500 Qualifying
Personally I have always enjoyed the first day of qualifying for the Indy 500 almost as exciting as the race, which is why I try to make a trip up each year to see it. The past few years have seen mostly rain-outs and the new qualifying format that was instituted a few years ago has never been actually put into practice. This year the weather was great, with warm, sunny days and great conditions for the new format. Unlike past years which basically gave each car a single attempt and there was unlimited qualifying on each day, the new system calls for only the 11 quickest qualified cars each day with each car getting up to three attempts per day.
I wasn’t sure if I’d like the new, being averse to change and all, but as it turns out the first qualifying day was as exciting as any have been in years. The crowd was fairly respectable as the cars practiced early in the morning in preparation for the qualifying, which began promptly at noon. By two o’clock there had already been 11 cars qualified and some more bumped out. Dario Franchitti held the pole most of the day, but the drama over the last 2 hours was intense. First, Team Penske driver Sam Hornish, Jr. made two dramatic attempts that came close but slight bobbles on each run cost him. At the last minute, literally, Helio Castroneves withdrew his time and posted the quickest time to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd. Then he had to wait while Tony Kanaan posted 3 laps even faster only to falter on his final lap and end up second. The difference between first and second was a miniscule .0042 seconds over 10 miles…incredible.
I had the requisite bronze badge passes which enable me to get close to all the action and even to have a brief conversation with Ashley Judd, the wife of Dario Franchitti about her new movie “Bug” which is coming out at the end of the month. She was somewhat disappointed that the film is being marketed as a horror film, insisting that it is more of a “physiological love story”. She was one of the few celebrities on hand that I saw, among the others were tennis legend Billie Jean King, Indiana Pacer David Harrison and Indianapolis Colts players Ben Utecht and Bob Sanders.
After the thrilling first day, I headed over to Brugge Brasserie to meet my sister Michele for dinner before visiting my friends John Cornwell and Dan Kurker who each recently purchased homes right across the street from each other.
I was back at the track on Sunday for day 2 of qualifying where they filled positions 11-22 of the 33 car field for the race. At the end of the day, two of the three women have qualified, with Milka Duno still yet to make an attempt. It was a great day, though somewhat slower than Saturday. I caught a late afternoon flight back home. Kathy will be headed back to Indiana for the race next week.