In a dramatic first day of qualifying for the 2018 Indianapolis 500, James Hinchcliffe was shockingly bumped from the field alongside Pippa Mann. This means that neither driver will take in next weekend’s race; an enormous disappointment for both. Team Penske‘s Helio Castroneves was the fastest driver of the day and will fight for pole position in the “Fast Nine” shoot-out later today.
There was much anticipation heading into “Bump Day” for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. After several years of only thirty-three entrants, this year saw the return of “bumping” in qualifying, due to thirty-five cars being entered to race with only thirty-three spots on the grid.
With the times looking so close up and down the field, there were no conclusive answers as to which two drivers would fail to qualify for the race. There was the potential for there to be a major surprise. That potential was realized.
For the first day of qualifying, all thirty-five drivers would get up to three attempts to complete their four-lap qualifying run. After all the cars had made at least one attempt, drivers could choose to return to the track to better their time.
Qualifying was interrupted twice due to rain, which shortened the amount of time left for drivers to make second attempts later in the day. The rain also worked against drivers who were running later in qualifying, as that, coupled with the increase in track temperature, made the track slightly slower than it had been for the first runners.
Helio Castroneves was one of the drivers blessed with an early run after yesterday’s qualifying draw. The Brazilian, who has returned to the series for this month’s pair of races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, spent a vast majority of the session on top of the time-sheets with a 228.919-mph run that would remain unbeaten for the rest the day.
Ed Carpenter was the closest challenger to Castroneves. He ran toward the end of the day, but he still managed to complete a 228.692-mph run. Simon Pagenaud and Will Power finished the day in third and fourth respectively, with Sebastien Bourdais completing the top five.
Spencer Pigot put in a fantastic run to take sixth in day one of qualifying. Reigning series champion Josef Newgarden put his #1 car in seventh place, with Scott Dixon and the returning Danica Patrick rounding out the top nine that will be fighting for pole position in the “Fast Nine” qualifying session.
All four Team Penske cars and all three Ed Carpenter Racing cars made it through to the “Fast Nine”, an impressive showcase of speed from both squads.
2016 Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi made a last minute run to try and better his initial time and sneak into the “Fast Nine”, but he would just fall short. He ended the day tenth fastest, with A.J. Foyt Enterprises drivers Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist also just missing out on the all-important top-nine by a small margin.
The fight to make it onto the Indy 500 grid was just as intense as the battle for the “Fast Nine” positions. Heading into the final half an hour, Oriol Servia and Pippa Mann occupied the last two positions on the time-sheets and would need to improve if they wanted to race next weekend.
Servia had struggled with setup issues in his #64 Scuderia Corsa Honda, but his third and final qualifying attempt saw him jump into safety in thirty-first place. This would knock Dale Coyne’s Conor Daly into the bottom two before he would run again to improve to thirty-second.
With just twenty minutes to go, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter, James Hinchcliffe, was unbelievably in serious danger of being bumped from the field. His initial run had come right after a rain shower earlier in the day, meaning that his speed was not where he wanted.
To try and get back into the field, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports would send Hinchcliffe back out onto the track, but the Canadian was soon on the radio complaining of a massive wheel vibration. This forced him back into the pits for a new set of tyres with just a few minutes remaining. He would rejoin the queue to make another attempt, but he was now behind Pippa Mann. The pair would also have to wait for Graham Rahal and Rossi to make their final runs.
As the clock ticked down toward zero on day one of qualifying, all Hinchcliffe would do was sit in his #5 Honda and see whether or not he would get the chance to run again. Pippa Mann got out onto the track for one last run and failed to improve from thirty-fifth and last place. The session time expired whilst she was on track, meaning that James Hinchcliffe would not get another run.
No one would have predicted that Hinchcliffe would be bumped from the field for the 2018 Indianapolis 500, but that is exactly what happened. He and Pippa Mann will now have to spectate the rest of the event; a massively bitter blow for both teams and drivers who have put in so much effort over the last few weeks and months to prepare for the race.
Qualifying will continue later today for the, now confirmed, thirty-three drivers of the 2018 Indianapolis 500 field. The drivers in positions ten to thirty-three from yesterday’s session will be on the track first to decide who will start where in that region of the grid. After that, the fastest nine drivers from yesterday will take to the track to decide who will start on pole position for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 – Bump Day qualifying results:
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