Qualifications for the 101st Indianapolis 500 began at 4 p.m. and concluded at 7 p.m. and that included a lengthy clean up after the Bourdais crash.
The session was supposed to begin at 11 a.m. ET before a severe storm blew through Central Indiana. Because of the compressed schedule, qualifications have changed to a one-shot format for Saturday to determine the lineup for Sunday’s final round of qualifications.
“I actually like this format better,” said Dave Popielarz, the crew chief for Fernando Alonso’s No. 29 Honda. “It’s get on the gas and go. (Bleep) or get off the pot.
“The multiple attempt format takes away the thrill of that first kiss. After a while, it becomes kissing your wife.”
Dixon put his Honda on top at 230.333 mph before he was knocked off later in the day by Carpenter and Sato. Dixon ended the session third.
“I think it was a lot more of the unknown,” Dixon said. “You see big numbers during the week and people that are fast. The one that obviously stood out for me during the whole week was Bourdais. Thinking of him, hoping he’s okay. It was definitely a big hit. Hopefully he should be fine.
“But I think he was definitely going to be the one that had a clear advantage I think over the rest of the field. So, I feel bad for that.
“I expected maybe Hunter-Reay to be a little better, some others to be a little better. Some got in that maybe we didn’t see, as well.
“Today doesn’t mean a whole lot. Tomorrow we’ll come back. I think we were in the tougher kind of conditions. Track temp was definitely very high when we did our attempt, the sun was out. Definitely cooled out with the ambient and the downtime with the crash. Hopefully, that will help us close the gap tomorrow when we run at similar times.
“But definitely the usual suspects in some ways that I think we saw out there. Yeah, we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully the weather holds off and we can get to run it.”
The other drivers that made the Fast Nine and will fight it out for the pole on Sunday were fourth-place J.R. Hildebrand’s Chevrolet at 230.2015 mph, defending winner Alexander Rossi’s Honda at 230.148 mph, Will Power’s Chevrolet at 230.072 mph, two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso’s Honda at 230.034 mph, Tony Kanaan’s Honda at 230.007 mph and Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti at 229.924 mph.
Barely missing the Fast Nine were 10th place Ed Jones at 229.717 mph in a Dale Coyne Racing Honda.
Following Jones in the close category was Charlies Kimball’s Honda at 229.713 mph, Max Chilton’s Honda at 229.636 mph, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Honda at 229.533 mph and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves’ 229.390 mph.
There are 31 cars that qualified on Saturday. Zach Veach did not make an attempt as his A.J. Foyt Racing team continues to rebuild the Chevrolet that he crashed on “Fast Friday.” He will make an attempt on Sunday.
It is undetermined what Coyne will do with the No. 18 entry because it will start last in the 33-car field no matter what happens on Sunday.