When Team Viso isn't... (LAT photos)
The final day of practice and qualifying for the IndyCar Series got off to an odd start and continued along a strange vein as time trials were held. An alert from the Andretti Autosport team approximately two hours before the start of practice revealed E.J. Viso would not be partaking in the weekend's festivities. His absence was attributed to an illness, but a diagnosis of ‘aversion to low-downforce ovals' would be more accurate.
Viso, for those who might recall, crashed in practice last year at Fontana, was unable to pinpoint why his car rotated, expressed his concern about racing with so little downforce and, once the 500-mile got underway, made light contact with the wall and retired after 65 laps. It's reasonable to infer that facing the same low-downforce scenario again was of little interest to the Venezuelan.
Qualifying added another oddity to the day when Team Penske's Will Power, with teammate Helio Castroneves sitting on pole, went out for his run and knocked the championship contender down to second, robbing him of the point that pole position pays.
Championship leader Scott Dixon was due to run after Power, and as he stated during the pole-winner's press conference, making sure Dixon didn't get the point for pole was the team's only concern. Dixon, however, was unsure what Team Penske expected to see from his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda after running well off of the Chevy-powered team's pace.
“They were saying Will had to make sure we didn't get the pole…it's kinda weird they thought we had the speed in us,” he said with a raised eyebrow. The Kiwi would qualify seventh at 217.979 mph to Power's 220.775.
BOURDAIS PUCKERS HIS WAY TO P4
Team Penske locked out the front row during qualifying for the MAVTV 500, but for a moment towards the close of the session, Dragon Racing's Sebastien Bourdais looked like he might spoil Penske's party. His first lap was good enough to place third, but a slower second lap dropped him to fourth. After the run, a wide-eyed SeaBass recounted the harrowing, sideways experience.
“It was a pull-it-out-of-your-a•• run,” said the KVSH Racing-bound Frenchman. “The first thing I had to say on the radio was I needed an underwear change! It was about as ragged as I've ever had it on an oval, or would ever want it to be. On the first lap it was pushing in Turn 1 and 2, so I went softer on the front bar, and Turn 3 and 4 were really free… I got to Turn 1 again and was hoping the balance would be good and it was LOOSE… The rear grabbed the front and… it was sliding like crazy. It was pretty nuts from where I was sitting.”
Bourdais says he hopes to keep his 225mph drifting career to a minimum.
“Nope, I don't want to do that anymore,” he said with a laugh. “I had plenty of adjustments to make the car go to the left, but not enough to keep it from going right…”