Indianapolis 500 fills its 33-car field
The field is set for the Indianapolis 500. And it’s full.
On an otherwise ho-hum day of qualifying, nine cars made the field on their first attempt, ending any potential last-minute drama and assuring the May 27 race would start with a full field of 33 cars for the 64th year in a row.
“We’re happy to see it,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus said. “There was very little doubt in my mind … To put it another way, I was confident we would end up with 33 cars.”
For the first time since 2004, there were no bump attempts — taking away the intrigue of last year’s enthralling finish when Marco Andretti bumped his way into the race by knocking out teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay on the final four-lap qualifying attempt.
The three slowest qualifiers got in at less than 215 mph. It will be the first time the 11th row is filled with cars under 215 mph since 2004.
Despite getting a rude welcome to the Brickyard’s 2.5-mile oval, former Formula One driver Jean Alesi made the race. The Frenchman will start 33rd after finishing with a four-lap qualifying average of 210.094 — slowest of any Indy starter since the late Fermin Velez’s 206.512 in 1997.
“It’s a big relief for me to finally get into this race,” said Alesi, one of seven rookies in the Indy field. “This is an amazing experience for me. I’m 47 years old, and I have learned more in one week than I did in my entire Formula One career.”
Australia’s Ryan Briscoe won the pole Saturday with a speed of 226.484 mph.
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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led for 209 of the 250 laps and won the NASCAR Nationwide race at the Iowa Speedway in Netwon, Iowa. It was his third straight win on the short oval.
Stenhouse, who won both races in Iowa in 2011, picked up his third victory of the season and extended his lead in the points chase to 28 over Elliott Sadler, who was second. Michael McDowell was third, followed by rookie Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch.
Jack Beckman raced to his first Funny Car victory of the season, beating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the NHRA Summernationals at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas.
Beckman used a fast reaction time to edge Capps in the final, finishing in 4.158 seconds at 303.09 mph. Capps had a run of 4.107 at 304.39.
David Grubnic won the Top Fuel division, and Allen Johnson beat the Pro Stock field.