Quick Notes From Indy 500 Qualifying

Ed Carpenter put his car on pole yesterday after running a blistering 230.088 mph lap one. He was the only driver to break 230 and you could hear it in the crowd’s reaction as his speed was put up on the screens around the track. The roar that erupted from an insanely fast lap is what May is all about.

The track was quick for other drivers yesterday too. Seven of the nine drivers in the Fast Nine improved on their speeds from yesterday and on average they improved 0.39 mph. That is a big difference off of Saturday and it shows how the track just got quicker as the day went on along with some improvements to the cars themselves. Castroneves, the driver I thought had the best chance to win pole position, slipped down to eighth position on the grid.

After his run Castroneves said his car was the Penske car chosen to run with the least downforce, and it hurt him in qualifying as he was unable to drive it through the corners. All Penske drivers ran a slightly different setup in qualifying so as to not put all of their eggs in one basket, and as Castroneves described it, he drew the short end of the stick. Expect him to be fast next week as they iron out a race setup.

The confidence intervals I wrote about yesterday didn’t capture the speeds we saw all that well. This is because I didn’t account for the changing track conditions on Sunday and how the racetrack was quicker the second day. I should have added an adjustment after the 10-33 qualifying session for the 0.1-0.3 mph increase we were seeing for most drivers. If this had been done, eight of the nine drivers in the top qualifying session would have had their true speeds captured in the confidence interval as opposed to just two of nine. Carpenter’s especially large confidence interval which I discussed in the article linked above did point to his big potential upside, and it showed on Sunday as he had the fastest car.

On average, the confidence intervals were off by .24 mph. I’ll be sure to keep in mind this adjustment for track speed in the future so the intervals are more accurate! Single Seater is always looking to improve and this will be just one way we will do so.

Practice will resume today for the Indy 500 at 12:30. Happy race week!

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Photo courtesy of Mike Harding/IndyCar

by Drew

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