JOSEF NEWGARDEN and Graham Rahal took care of business right away yesterday.
Less than 24 hours after getting bumped out of the top 24 starting spots, Newgarden and Rahal posted the two fastest four-lap averages on Bump Day, easily earning spots in the race.
On a day that lacked the usual drama, tension and rumors, all the drivers who made attempts on the second and final day of Indy qualifications made it into the 33-car field, though nobody had it easier than the two young American drivers - Newgarden and Rahal.
"I don't want to sound too confident, but I knew we would be fine," Newgarden said after delivering the day's best qualifying run at 225.731 mph. "I think we would have been OK [Saturday] if we would have had another shot at it."
Newgarden, the Tennessee native who finished fifth in Brazil, wanted to take another shot Saturday but was left sitting in qualifying line when the gun sounded at 6 p.m. He had to wait another 18 hours to get a second shot, this time leaving no doubt he belonged. His qualifying speed from yesterday would have been good enough for 21st, the outside of Row 7, if it happened a day earlier. Instead, he'll start 25th, the inside of Row 9.
Rahal, who struggled all week,will start 11th, the middle of Row 4, after going 227.386.
Rahal, who drives for his father, Bobby, the 1986 Indy winner, couldn't quite get his car right. But when it mattered yesterday, Rahal easily made it in with an average speed of 225.007 to claim the No. 26 starting spot - the middle of Row 9.
Michel Jourdain Jr. was the only driver who failed to make the field. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver from Mexico tried to get into the field Saturday, but fell short. The team switched engines and copied setups from teammates Graham Rahal and James Jakes to help figure out what was wrong. Nothing worked.
Jourdain never posted an official time yesterday because the team backed off 15 minutes before the final deadline, sensing it couldn't reach the 33rd-place time to get into the field. Katherine Legge held on with an average speed of 223.176 mph for four laps.
Britain's Pippa Mann and Brazil's Ana Beatriz, of Dale Coyne Racing, will be the first female teammates in Indy history.
Longtime NASCAR driver Ken Schrader became the oldest winner in ARCA Racing Series history yesterday, dominating the Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway.