Indianapolis 500 Bump Day.  Those words used to carry along with them an element of fear, drama, and danger.  In recent years, bump day has not been, simply put, very exciting.  Last year, we got some bumping but no extreme drama.  John Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s runs into the field were amazing, but lacked the craziness of year’s past.

But, this year…Holy Drama Batman.  A superstar not able to get his car up to speed.  A young rookie hanging on the edge and crashing his car, seemingly out of the race.  A grizzled, respected veteran seemingly safe in the field, then suddenly, going home.  An amazingly popular car owner/driver in tears after the final gun goes off with no answers.

All in all, I think the new qualifying format that was received with lukewarm, at best, support was a smashing success that culminated in today’s drama.

First the story of Tony Kanaan.  He was a lock for the Fast 9 yesterday, right?  Right?  A bit of greed, as TK would say today caught him out and he hit the Turn 2 wall.  Goodbye Fast 9.  Goodbye Top 24.  So, today he’d come out an put it in the show, right? RIGHT?  Same short chute caught him out in morning practice.  We saw a TK most of us have never seen.  Frustrated…Confused…Scared.  But he worked his tools, as they say, and put it in the show.  I don’t know about you, but my stomach was in knots watching Tony’s travails today.  To have a 500 without TK was not acceptable.  I yelled at the TV every time he went through the south end of the track, wishing him through the turns that caught him out twice in less than 24 hours.  Tony stuck it in, but was one step away from the bubble in the end.  He probably lost all chances of winning next weekend, but at least he is in the show.

The same cannot be said about Paul Tracy.  I dare any of you to find any fan worth their salt that predicted that Paul would not be in this race.  But with less than 10 minutes left, KV Racing pulled Paul’s time and sent him back out.  I understand wanting to control your own destiny, but you are in the Biggest Race in the World.  Two death wiggles later in the North short chute, and a continual drop of speed over the 4 lap hell that is qualifying, and the Thrill from West Hill was slower than the bubble speed.  He ran back in line to try and bump Jay Howard from the Sarah Fisher Racing Team from the field.  He would have to wait for Jacques Lazier to try and put the A.J. Foyt Enterprises #41 car in the show after being bumped yesterday with A.J. Foyt IV behind the wheel.  Jacques own death wiggle in the rapidly becoming more dangerous North end of the track halted his chance to get back in the field.

So, Jay Howard was next in line with PT behind him.

Unbelievably, Jay’s team pulls his time.  Again, keeping destiny in their own hands, I understand.  But, the specter of Tracy behind him I think forced the SFR team to pull Jay’s time and send him back out with about 2 minutes remaining.  From that point, it was very clear that Tracy was not getting back on track.  He was out.  The story then became Jay Howard.  Could he bump himself back in from the time he had just pulled out.  The answer was no.  And that was clearly evident on Sarah Fisher’s face.  I’ve never run into anyone that doesn’t like Sarah Fisher.  Some folks may even be considered super fans (Pressdog…)  But it was clear after Jay’s 3rd lap that he was not getting back in.  Sarah hid her head and clearly was shedding tears.  The stress that those last 15 minutes put on her, had to be one of the hardest things she has ever gone through.  The ramifications of Jay not making the field may be long lasting financially on her team.  Hopefully, the program that she originally wanted after Indianapolis can be completed.

So, after all the withdrawing and attempted bumping, and posturing, 19 year old Sebastian Saavadra gets back into the field….while in Methodist Hospital.  Saavadra was on the bubble for most of the day and went out at about 4:50 PM to find some more speed to defend their speed which was sure to be bumped.  Saavadra’s car smacked the Turn 1 wall after the back end stepped out.  He was taken to Methodist for further evaluation, but did walk away from the car.  But, with all the topsy turvy things that happened after his accident, the Brian Herta Autosport driver was BACK in the 500.

An amazing day, with an amazing ending.  Some of the magic that we all love about Indianapolis returned today.  Definitely at the cost of some of our heroes unfortunately.  But, it was something to watch wasn’t it?

We can only hope that the race next Sunday will be as exciting.  Carb Day beckons in 5 days.  Can’t wait…

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