Indy 500 qualifying: Siegel bumped from field, then wrecks

Indy 500 qualifying: Siegel bumped from field, then wrecks

Dale Coyne Racing’s 19-year-old rookie is the only driver who will go home today, despite a huge scare for 2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson (Andretti Global), who miscounted his laps and backed off after the white flag on his first run. He had to run again and jumped to P2 with just minutes remaining.

Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) also went through the mill for the second consecutive season, his lack of speed in his Honda-powered No. 15 RLLR machine sparking memories of his painful 2023 Bump Day exit.

Siegel was the first to take the track for the guaranteed last-chance runs, as he was the slowest car in Saturday’s qualifying session. Following his big crash in practice on Friday, when he flipped onto his side, Siegel has been using a backup car – which is Jack Harvey’s regular road course chassis.

Siegel’s first run was 229.566mph, which was quicker than his earlier practice pace but unlikely to be good enough to progress without problems for others.

Drama then unfolded immediately as Ericsson, the second driver to run, misjudged which lap he was on, and backed off after the white flag – thinking it was the checker. He completed his run, but only managed 220.702mph due to his error.

Ericsson was in this position after shunting heavily at Turn 4 on Thursday afternoon, after which he had to switch to a backup car.

Katherine Legge, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Katherine Legge, Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Katherine Legge (Dale Coyne Racing) then hit the top spot despite two huge moments, an early wiggle at Turn 1 and then a big understeer at Turn 2 on her final tour, on her wild four-lap run for 230.092mph.

“Terrifying,” she reported of her flirting-with-disaster run. “I feel sick and shaky, and I feel like I wanna cry.

“Really, really hoping we don’t have to go again. That last lap cost us a lot.”

Rahal was next to go, and although his first lap was a 230.396mph his speed tailed off as his laps unfolded. His average was 229.974mph, enough for P2, but he complained his engine wasn’t pulling the gear ratio to his liking.

Ericsson was able to run some cool-down laps in the middle of the session, ahead of his crucial final run, because he waived his time. His Andretti team waited as late as it dared, to get the best of the track conditions with surface temperatures up to 130F.

He took the green flag with just six minutes to go, with his place in the Indy 500 at stake, and rattled off laps of 230.672, 230.057, 229.773 and 229.644 for an average of 230.027mph.

That prompted Siegel to make one final attempt. He produced an opening lap of 229.288mph before clipping the wall on the exit of Turn 1 on lap two, which caused him to lose control and spin into the Turn 2 barriers. He was unhurt.

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