LVMS Practice & Qualifying
October 16, 2011
LVMS Practice & Qualifying
If you look at the record books in the future, you won’t see any listings for the Indy Car championship race in Las Vegas. The tragic loss of Indy Car driver Dan Wheldon and subsequent cancelation of the remaining race means that the entire event will be removed from the history books as if none of it ever happened, a decision that is fine with me considering what we all went through on the tragic race day. However, prior to the tragedy, there was a full day of practice and qualifying for the race which despite not counting in official record books did in fact occur and was pretty exciting at that.
We headed out to Las Vegas Motor Speedway early on Friday morning for a full day of activities which included practice and qualifying for the Indy Car series, the Indy Lights series and the NASCAR truck series. The weather was perfect, sunny with no humidity and temperatures in the low 90s.
Ana Beatriz & Danica Patrick
My friend Bob & I were able to hang out in the Neon garage area and in the pits during the practice and qualifying and we also had passes to the Indy car suite atop the grandstands just past the start/finish line. The suite had food and drinks and even better had comfy seats and air conditioning and an amazing view of the entire track as well as close-circuit televisions in case we might miss something. Not a bad deal at all.
As nice as the suite was, I also enjoy being closer to the action and spent much of the practice sessions in the pits. There is something about being so close that engages all my senses as you can feel the power as the cars roar out of the pits and smell the methanol fuel with a slight hint of burning rubber, it is awesome.
The Indy Car qualifying was full of surprises. Not many would have guessed a front row that consisted of pole sitter Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia. More surprising is how poorly the two championship contenders, Dario Franchitti and Will Power did in their attempts. They would ironically be starting side by side, but way back in 17th (Power) and 18th (Franchitti).
Jamie Little of ESPN
Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden
It was a busy day of qualifying as thirty-four cars are scheduled to start, which is a very large field for Indy Car. This is the last year for this style car and many car owners decided to make one final use of their extra cars and put one off drivers into the field. There was one scary looking incident as rookie James Jakes wrecked his car in turn two in a fiery crash. He was thankfully fine and would be able to start in a back-up car.
James Jakes wreck
The pole position by Tony Kanaan was something of a surprise as it was his first pole of the season. The relatively poor showings by the typically dominant Penske and Target teams opened the door for others to populate the top of the grid, which was pretty cool. I always like to see fresh faces at the front.
Kathy & Helio Castroneves
It was a really great day at the track and the excitement building for the race was really growing. It continued the next day when we all spent the morning at the wonderful Indy Fan fest which was held in the parking lot of our hotel, Mandalay Bay. There was a meet and greet with all the Indy Car drivers, a question and answer session between championship contenders Franchitti and Power that was moderated by Dan Wheldon that was wonderful and really difficult to think about after what happened. Wheldon keep the discussion light and humorous and was in great spirits. For many fans in attendance, it was their final opportunity to see Wheldon in person and hopefully it will be a memory they will cherish. I know it will be for me.