Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay both failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 as Paul Tracy (LEFT), Danica Patrick, Alex Lloyd and Marco Andretti all made it in at the end of a dramatic Bump Day.
Patrick had looked set to miss out earlier in the day as rain arrived before she could even make a qualifying attempt. But the weather relented and, when the track reopened for a final hour, Patrick swiftly got herself onto the grid with a run good enough for 26th place.
"It's not a fun position to be in, but I'm just glad I'm going to be in the 100th (anniversary) Indy 500," Patrick said. "I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I've always said that this place is like a person. It reads you when you're nervous and reads you when you're not confident, and it reads you when you are. It throws a lot at you, but that's why this is the greatest racetrack in the world.
"I am mad because I really felt we had fast car the way we started out, fast enough to be in the top nine, even. I'm frustrated from some of the things that have happened. I'm excited for everyone that we can sleep tonight. Between angry and happy are the main emotions – both ends of the spectrum."
Long Beach winner Conway, who had ended last year's Indy 500 with multiple injuries after a horrific crash on the final lap, could not muster the same speed from his car. He used up all three of his qualifying attempts without managing a quick enough time to get into the field.
Patrick's performance had put her teammate Andretti "on the bubble" in 33rd place, and the 2006 runner-up then found himself staring at non-qualification after Dale Coyne Racing's Alex Lloyd (who had been bumped by Patrick) produced a 223.957mph lap to jump back into the field in 31st.
Time was running out for Andretti to respond, but when Lloyd's Dale Coyne teammate James Jakes waved off an unsuccessful late qualifying run, Andretti was able to get out on track with just a minute to spare. A spectacular run then took him into the field in 28th place, but at the expense of his Andretti teammate Hunter-Reay, who had been shuffled down amid the late changes and will now miss the Indy 500.
Conquest's Sebastian Saavedra, AFS driver Raphael Matos and Jakes all used up their maximum number of qualifying attempts without finding enough speed to make the field.
Big name drivers who had managed to make the cut earlier in the day included Ganassi's Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball, Paul Tracy (Dreyer & Reinbold), and Penske's Ryan Briscoe.
Alex Tagliani took pole position for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in yesterday's Pole Day session, ahead of Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Newman/Haas' Oriol Servia. This is the closest matched field by time in Indianapolis 500 history – 2.5399 seconds separate fastest qualifier Tagliani and slowest qualifier Ana Beatriz. The previous record was 3.0622sec, set in 2010.
Pos Driver Team Speed
1. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 227.472mph
2. Scott Dixon Ganassi 227.340mph
3. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 227.168mph
4. Townsend Bell Sam Schmidt 226.887mph
5. Will Power Penske 226.773mph
6. Dan Wheldon Herta 226.490mph
7. Buddy Rice Panther 225.786mph
8. Ed Carpenter Sarah Fisher 225.121mph
9. Dario Franchitti Ganassi
10. Takuma Sato KV 225.736mph
11. Vitor Meira Foyt 225.590mph
12. JR Hildebrand Panther 225.579mph
13. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas 225.572mph
14. Bertrand Baguette Rahal Letterman Lanigan 225.285mph
15. Davey Hamilton Dreyer & Reinbold 225.250mph
16. Helio Castroneves Penske 225.216mph
17. John Andretti Petty/Andretti 224.981mph
18. EJ Viso KV 224.732mph
19. Bruno Junqueira Foyt 224.691mph
20. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 224.511mph
21. Jay Howard Rahal/Schmidt 224.483mph
22. Tomas Scheckter KV/SH 224.433mph
23. Tony Kanaan KV 224.417mph
24. Simona de Silvestro HVM 224.392mph
25. Paul Tracy Dreyer & Reinbold 224.939mph
26. Danica Patrick Andretti 224.861mph
27. Ryan Briscoe Penske 224.639mph
28. Marco Andretti Andretti 224.628mph
29. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 224.499mph
30. Graham Rahal Ganassi 224.380mph
31. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne 223.957mph
32. Pippa Mann Conquest 223.936mph
33. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 223.879mph
Did not qualify:
Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti
Raphael Matos AFS
Mike Conway Andretti
James Jakes Dale Coyne
Sebastian Saavedra Conquest
Ho-Pin Tung Schmidt/Dragon
Scott Speed Dragon