The threat of not having the traditional 33-car field in the Indianapolis 500 ended when Ed Carpenter qualified his back-up car today to fill the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 field.
Carpenter completed his four-lap run with an average of 222.324 mph in his No. 20T Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet which was good enough for the 28th spot in the 33-car field. He was the last qualifier of the day after eight other drivers took to the 2.5-mile oval to complete their four-lap runs prior to Carpenter.
For the second straight day, a Penske had the fastest qualifier of the day. Today, Jay Penske (Roger's son), car owner for Dragon Racing, saw his driver Sebastien Bourdais turn the quickest four-lap average of the session with a speed 223.760 mph. Bourdais will start inside of Row 9 (25th position) in his No. 7 Chevy.
Rookie Wade Cunningham was second quickest of the day and will start alongside Bourdais in the 26th spot with a four-lap average of 223.258 mph in the No. 41 Foyt Enterprises Honda.
The man with the quickest practice speed of the day will round out Row 9 in 27th place. Oriol Servia's four-lap average of 222.393 was a relief for him after crashing on his warm-up lap yesterday coming off of Turn 4.
Rounding out the 33-car field and qualifying for the race today were Mike Conway (29th), rookie Katherine Legge (30th), rookie Bryan Clauson (31st), Simona de Silvestro (32nd), and rookie Jean Alesi (33rd).
After Carpenter's run finished at 2:08 P.M. locally in Indianapolis, the field was set as everyone wanted to see the traditional bumping. Unfortunately, there were no takers.
That had to be a relief for the Lotus drivers of de Silvestro, and Alesi as they were locked in with speeds off pace. De Silvestro was the first car out today in the qualifying session, but could only get to a four-lap average of 214.393 mph.
Her Lotus counterpart Alesi was much slower as he could only get to 210.094 mph which is the slowest speed to start an Indianapolis since 1988. Another first Alesi can boast is he is now officially the oldest driver to ever qualifying for the 500 at 48 years old.
The biggest drama of the day came when Charlie Kimball wrecked his No. 83 Novo Nordisk machine early in the practice session following qualifying. Kimball was okay, but his crew will have to work feverishly to re-build his machine so he won't have to revert to his back-up car on race day. If Kimball needs to go to the back-up he will forgo his 14th starting position and have to start last in the 33-car field.
The rest of the day actually saw a great four hour practice session as nearly all of the drivers that made the field came out in race trim to run in big groups. Many of the drivers used this rare extra time to dial their cars in for race day next Sunday.
There was tons of passing on the main straightaway all day as cars got a huge tow running in groups. The drivers put on quite a show all afternoon.
Unfortunately, with the lack of a "true bump day", the crowd stayed away. The crowd was the smallest I've seen in on Bump Day in recent memory. The fans that stayed away missed a great practice session as I left IMS today very pleased with how the teams and cars ran today.