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Author: Mark W. Theisen
May 16th 2015 -    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA MAY 16, 2015:     Persistent afternoon rain canceled the remainder of scheduled track activity on the first day of qualification’s for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
     With only two cars recording official qualification four-lap runs before the rain Verizon IndyCar officials and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway disallowed those times since not every car was able to make an attempt.
     What this all means that tomorrow will be a very hectic and stressful day for all 34 cars entered for this year’s 500 and their teams and with a 40% chance of showers after 2 P.M. who knows what may happen.
     Defending Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay with a four lap average of 229.845 and Carlos Huertas at 228.235 were the only two drivers to post speeds before the rain began and they will have to do it all over again tomorrow.
     Two groups of cars will practice early on Sunday morning with group one out at 8:00 A.M. and then group two from 8:20 to 8:40 A.M.  Then it will be a revised pole-day format which will call for all 34 entries to make one four lap qualifying attempt on the 2.5 mile oval track.   This will run from 10:00 A.M. until approximately 1:00 P.M.
     Teams will have to stand on their time with waive offs not allowed.
    The Fast Nine Shootout will run from 1:45 P.M. to 2:30 P.M. in which the top nine cars from the previous session return to determine the pole position starter for the 500 and the remaining starting positions for the first three rows.
     Staring positions 10 through 30 will be based on the speeds from the first session Sunday.
     With 34 cars entered the final session will determine starting positions 31-33 and that will be done in a 45 minute session that would include the “bumping” procedure should time allow.
     In morning practice today Helio Castroneves recorded a lap of 233.474 miles-per-hour, while unofficial, was the fastest lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the 1966 race when Eddie Cheever Jr., had the fastest race lap of 236.103.  That same year, Arie Luyendyk set the current one and four lap qualifying records (237.498 and 236.986, respectively).
     The morning weather conditions were cooler today and Castroneves was practicing with a group of cars so he could have had a “tow” which assisted his speed but it was anyone’s guess and it set up what could have been an interesting day, speed-wise, had the weather co-operated.
     Those drivers with an early qualifying position draw tomorrow will benefit from a cooler track temperature and could put a few surprises into the Fast Nine Shootout.  
     It will be fun to watch how all the strategy will play out in a compressed qualifying day.