Pole Winner Ryan Briscoe and Team
After a long, hot day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there were many things that could be taken away from the first day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500:
1. Although the DW12 appears to be safer, it crashes ugly
Crashes by Bryan Clauson, Oriol Servia and Ed Carpenter on Day 1 were our first opportunity to see the DW12 crash on an oval. While all three walked away unscathed, the car splintered into pieces. Although this disperses energy (and thus is ultimately beneficial), it was alarming to some.
In addition, the DW12 was designed to not go airborne during crashes, and during Ed Carpenter's crash, it did catch some air. It will be interesting to see if the car remains flat during crashes on race day.
2. No Ganassi cars made it into the Fast 9
Most people are used to seeing Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti battling for the pole at Indianapolis, but 2012 saw both drivers on the outside looking in during the Fast 9 shootout. Franchitti has been visibly frustrated all month, and yesterday was no exception. Dixon and Franchitti will roll off the grid in P15 and P16, respectively. It remains to be seen if either can find the speed they're used to in race day trim.
3. SFHR driver Josef Newgarden was the only Honda to make the Fast 9
Fast Friday times indicated that Honda engines were at a disadvantage with the increased boost levels given for qualifying weekend; however, nobody expected just one to make it into the Fast 9. In addition, Newgarden is an Indy rookie, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tends not to be kind to newbies. SFHR and Newgarden have been one of the fastest teams, and they're looking for a strong finish on race day.
4. Crashes on Pole Day may have put a stop to 'bumping' on Bump Day
Although rumors were flying during the week that owners were potentially planning to roll out T cars in an attempt to bump Lotus from the field, it appears that that may no longer be the case. Prior to the start of Pole Day, Pippa Mann tweeted that her chances at a Bump Day special had fallen through, although she was unable to give a reason why. This resulted in rampant speculation that IndyCar itself had put a stop to T car bumping to preserve Lotus in the field. However, IndyCar maintains that that is not the case.
It is more likely that blown engines and crashes are the result of the purported lack of T car bumping. In addition, the inability for both of A.J. Foyt's cars to make the field yesterday also likely put a stop to a third car for that team. It appears that Pippa Mann and Jay Howard will both be on the outside looking in in 2012.
5. Can the dominance of Andretti Autosport be continued on race day?
In 2011, Andretti Autosport struggled on Pole and Bump Day, but with Andretti Autosport cars starting P2, P3 and P4, it appears that they have found their groove. However, it is obviously impossible to predict whether that will carry over to race day. It remains to be seen whether the Chevrolet engines powering Andretti cars will have the endurance or the speed to keep up with the Hondas, who appeared to be faster in non-boost conditions.