Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

No bumps on Indy 500 bump day

INDIANAPOLIS — 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.

"I don't want to sound too confident, but I knew we would be fine," Newgarden said after the day's best four-lap qualifying run on the 2½-mile oval at 225.731 mph. "I think we would have been okay (Saturday) if we would have had another shot at it."

The lone twist might have come if Mexico's Michel Jourdain made a qualifying attempt. But after failing to top 220 mph in practice — more than 3 mph too slow to make the field — the discouraged Jourdain had his car towed back to Gasoline Alley.

Rahal, who drives for his father, Bobby, the 1986 Indy winner, couldn't quite get his car right. But when it mattered, Rahal ran easily at 225.007 mph to claim the 26th starting spot.

"I've certainly had better (weeks), I've certainly had some that were more challenging," Rahal said of his sixth straight Indy start. "But there have been some mysteries behind a lot of our speed problems."

His Rahal Letterman Lanigan team had bigger problems, too. Their third driver was Jourdain, the only driver who missed out.

"We tried to change everything we could, but we just could not go fast enough," said Jourdain, a veteran who has made two 500 starts. "It's no point putting the car in the wall."

Conor Daly — who had a week where an airline lost his HANS device, he crashed in practice, and a Saturday qualifying attempt was derailed by puffs of smoke — made the field as a 21-year-old rookie, inside Row 11 with an average of 223.582.

"I have to thank the crew for all they've done," said Daly, son of former Indy and Formula One driver and TV analyst Derek Daly. "I think they had the car apart at least 15 times after the crash and the problems we had (Saturday)."

Katherine Legge was in line ready to requalify, in case she got bumped, when Jourdain called it a day. The British driver will start 33rd and last after a run of 223.176 mph.

"I haven't slept in like, three days, so I'm going to sleep tonight, which is good," she said.

Her inclusion means the field has a record-tying four women. Dale Coyne Racing's Pippa Mann and Ana Beatriz are the first female teammates in Brickyard history. Both qualified Sunday; Simona de Silvestro got in Saturday.

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