INDIANAPOLIS – The day after the final round of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 is traditionally a quiet day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while the field of 33 drivers fly off to locations around the United States for a Media Tour.
But in this “New Age” of the Indianapolis 500 the “Day After” meant a full day of practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500.
The reason for the additional practice session is the revamped qualification format that moved the run for the pole as the last event of the weekend did not give teams a chance to practice Race Day setups by doing full tank runs. Also, teams use these sessions to scrub in their tires for use in the race.
Young Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing was the fastest of the 33 drivers on the race course with a fast lap of 227.105 mph in a Dallara/Honda. He ran just 37 laps while Townsend Bell ran a whopping 148 laps during the session that started at 12 noon and ended at 5 p.m. E.T. Sebastien Bourdais followed with 125 laps, Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball ran 123 laps each and rookie James Davison ran 119.
Tony Kanaan was the only other driver to run more than 100 laps on Monday as the defending Indianapolis 500 winner ran 116 laps and was the fifth fastest of the day at 226.336 mph in a Dallara/Chevrolet.
Kurt Busch may have run one lap too many, however, when he stuffed his Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda into the Turn 2 wall on his 56th lap.
Flames flew out of the car from the friction of the impact and suspension pieces flew off the car. As Busch’s crashed car slid across the track in front of oncoming traffic, several cars narrowly missed hitting it including Team Penske driver Will Power.
Busch was able to climb out of his car unharmed and was evaluated by the IndyCar Safety Team. He was checked, cleared and released from the IU Health Infield Care Center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His car was towed back to the Andretti Autosport garage in Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to assess the damage.
The car was not repairable, so the team will use Marco Andretti’s backup Dallara/Honda. Busch will still be able to start on the outside of row four after a four-lap qualification run on Sunday at 230.782 mph.
“I was starting to fetl comfortable,” Busch said. “That’s when I made the mistake of just letting my guard down or settling into that long run type mentality whereas with an Indy car you have to be on edge. You have to keep track of where you are at all times and the adjustments in the car. Maybe I just didn’t keep up with keeping the car underneath me. Trying to get into that rhythm and feel other things around you and I got behind on my adjustments in the car.”
The Andretti Autosport crew has until Friday’s Carb Day to completely rebuild the car or enter the backup.
“It’s nice to have it an opportune time,” Busch said. “We still have Carb Day to shake things down and get back in the groove. This created a lot of work for the Andretti guys. I feel bad for that. As a rookie, there’s things you learn and put it up on the edge and get away with and then there’s times when it will bite you. It’s just tough. I thought I was finding a rhythm and settling into that long run type pace and learning the tows and the draft and I didn’t keep track of the adjustments of the car.
“I was 100 percent just working in traffic. Just trying to settle in and not make mistakes and I just made a mistake.”