Sunday, May 23, 2010

Indy 500 Qualifying Confusion Seemingly Sorted

UPDATE: A HUGE thanks goes out to Trackside Online's Joe Berkemeier who has helped me sort out this whole time-line. As explained to me by Joe:
"You don't have to withdraw your times to bump back in. (once you are bumped out of the top 33) Howard did not have to withdraw his 223.824 to get back into the show, it had just been bumped by Sato."
As such I have made some edits below that hopefully will hlp just explain this whole process for anyone confused by what happened at the very end of Bump Day. If you haven't already, you should definitely subscribe to Trackside Online!


First, let’s just breathe a little bit after that craziness that was the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Bump Day. I have plenty to talk about in my run-up previews for the race; Bruno being pole-worthy, the fact that Milka is out of the race without anything sketchy needing to happen, Tracy being out, why in the world teams waste the 2nd to last hour, whatever happened at Foyt and Andretti these past two days, but really quick before that.. I have to ask…

Did the IZOD IndyCar Series just, by sheer luck, miss out on one of the biggest screw ups in officiating history and possibly a HUGE lawsuit? Turns out, no... just a little confusion for the fans who don't have copies of the rulebook.


Let’s take a look back at this chronologically, all confirmed by the official IICS qualifying reports.

In the Final Minutes

Saavedra being on the bubble, goes out for practice and crashes, but he is still 33rd

Tony Kanaan goes out and qualifies a 224.072mph which bumps Sebastian Saavedra’s 223.634mph
This makes the bottom 4 spots:

30.  Tony Kanaan (11) 224.072mph
31.  Paul Tracy (15)   223.892   mph
32.  Jay Howard (66) 223.824mph
33.  Mario Romancini (32) 223.805mph

Eric Bachelart remembering what happened the previous year, withdraws Romancini’s 223.805. This technically for the moment brings Saavedra back into the 33rd spot.

31.  Paul Tracy (15)   223.892   mph
32.  Jay Howard (66) 223.824mph
33. Sebastian Saavedra (29) 223.634mph

Romancini’s attempt comes in hot at 224.641mph putting him way up in the field and re-bumping Saavedra, which now puts Jay Howard on the bubble:

31. Tony Kanaan (11) 224.072mph
32. Paul Tracy (15)   223.892   mph
33. Jay Howard (66) 223.824 mph

Takuma Sato goes out and puts himself into the field with 224.178mph bumping Howard’s 223.824 (which would make it the alternate/34th). This puts Paul Tracy’s 223.892 on the bubble.

31. Takuma Sato (5) 224.178 mph  
32. Tony Kanaan (11) 224.072 mph
33. Paul Tracy (15)   223.892   mph

SIXTH - The NEW important lost detail!
So Howard needs to get back in the field, but since he is out of the field, he does not have to withdraw his 223.824 it lives in the land of alternate qual times it turns out.

Howard finishes 223.610, which is thrown out as its slower than his other non-qualifying time.

31. Takuma Sato (5) 224.178 mph  
32. Tony Kanaan (11) 224.072 mph
33. Paul Tracy (15)   223.892 mph
34. Jay Howard (66)   223.824 mph
35. Sebastian Saavedra (29) 223.634mph

So then, Paul Tracy not being comfortable on the bubble (and possibly having seen what Bachelart/Romancini did earlier) with barely 15 minutes left withdraws his 33rd spot 223.892. This puts Jay Howard back in the field.

31. Takuma Sato (5) 224.178 mph  
32. Tony Kanaan (11) 224.072 mph
33. Jay Howard (66)   223.824 mph

34. Sebastian Saavedra (29) 223.634mph

Tracy gets near the wall too much and kills his attempt halfway through, so technically Tracy has no time for the day. Then Lazier tries but withdraws after getting squirrely just before his attempt, then for some stupid reason Milka goes out and continues to do 4 mph too slow and gets pulled off the track….

This brings us then to the moment the TV announcers are in crazy mode wondering if Tracy can get back into the field, and then Brian Barnhart is yelling: "C’mon guys, what do you want to do?"

This is because, as TV told us, Howard was on the bubble, so they did in fact need to decide on going out to block Paul Tracy, or to let him go out and try to knock them out.. so then they withdrew the  223.824 mph which put Saavedra back in the field.

Many, many thanks to all the readers, and especially TSO Joe who helped clarify the official rulings of the ever-changing Indy 500 qualifications. Now that thats explained, let us look forward to a great race, previews coming soon.

All pictures via


Martin said...

Sarah was asked about why, and said that she wasn't in on the decision-making, but affirmed that those who were made the best decision they could. Versus never asked the real decicion-makers. Perhaps they understood that they were 34th, not 33rd. That would explain everything except why Versus got it wrong.

Fred Hurley said...

I agree there's a chance they barely escaped a massive cluster-bleep, but:

The announcers (both TV and Radio) might well have had the same problem as the fans, if the T&S feed died for them, too. And in the craziness, it seemed to make sense that Howard was on the bubble.

As for Barnhart & Co, it's possible that SFR paused for a second in indecision because they were confused too, and Barnhart was trying to get them to make a decision quickly. He might well have completely understood the situation, and just been firmly telling the team to get a move on.

I agree though that this is a stretch. There's a solid chance that T&S was down in general, and that the official team on pit lane was as confused as everyone else. And if so, holy cow! I'm just glad everyone made an attempt who should have, so no harm no foul.

PipSTA said...

You can't blame the team for withdrawing Howard's time and going again. Who would they rather have deciding if they make the field or not, Jay himself, or Paul Tracy. I think they knew the situation, and made a correct decision. You can't say that that cost them their chance to be in the show, PT could have gone faster. Should have done, in fact.

But why did PT withdraw? Who was he worried about bumping him? Milka was 4 miles an hour off the pace, Saavedra was in the medical centre, Lazier just didn't have it together, Howard had just failed with an attempt. Why withdraw then? Let Milka and Lazier have a go, fail, and then see what Howard can do. Then he'd be in the show.