Graham Rahal will not start the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 after being knocked out at the last minute by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda teammate Jack Harvey (pictured above).
Grand Prix of Indianapolis pole-winner Christian Lundgaard hit the track first in the one-hour session and opened his first attempt with a 230.325mph and dropped to 229.776mph on his second, 229.371mph on his third and finished off with a 229.129mph. This average of 229.649mph was slower than expected, for he had been the fastest of the four Last Chance Qualifier contenders in morning practice. The car looked secure – possibly too secure – perhaps carrying too much downforce in response to the 124 degree track temperature.
Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR was next up, and the first and second laps from the 21-year-old rookie from Idaho were slower than Lundgaard’s equivalents. His third lap virtually matched his second, but his fourth was slower and he fell behind Lundgaard despite just 1mph dropoff from lap one to lap four.
Harvey looked doomed from the word go, with 229.034mph on the first tour of the legendary 2.5-mile course, dropping him into the 228mphs for the next two laps, and a 227.914mph on his final lap dropping him to 228.477mph – over 1mph behind Robb.
Teammate Graham Rahal had a weight jacker issue, so his average 229.159mph was nothing to shout about, but it was over 0.68mph clear of Harvey. Falling short of Robb’s speed, however, left RLL in an invidious position. If Harvey was to improve significantly, he would bump out Rahal. And making a second attempt meant the driver relinquished his first time, so no one was going to blink unless Harvey, the man with nothing to lose, went out.
Harvey made a 170mph run on old tires to drive air through the engine, to remove the power-sapping heat-soak that all IndyCars suffer while sitting on pitlane. Then he made his second qualifying attempt with 10 minutes to go, leaving enough time for Rahal to respond should he need to.
Harvey’s opening lap of 229.393mph, a second lap of 228.968mph and a third of 228.941mph meant he was down to 34th again, even before he closed out with a 228.416mph. But he pitted again, grabbed some fuel and hit the track once more, and with the clock running out as he warmed up, Rahal wouldn’t have any more time left.
The 30-year-old from Bassingham, Lincolnshire, UK delivered two laps of 229.435mph and 229.082mph, which didn’t look good, but then his third lap was 229.176mph and a 228.971mph was his closer. It was enough to beat Rahal out of the 107th Indy 500 by just 0.07mph.