I didn’t expect to be sitting here, early Saturday morning, writing about Sebastian Saavedra taking the pole for today’s inaugural Indianapolis GP- and that has more to do with my take on Saavedra than the fact that I thought qualifying was today (it was yesterday) and the race was happening on Sunday (it’s happening in a few hours).
That’s not to say Sebastian Saavedra isn’t a talented driver- he wouldn’t be at Indy, if he wasn’t!- it’s just that I haven’t seen the sort of brilliance you’d expect to shine in a rain-soaked qualifying on a new track that no one has ever raced on (in an IndyCar) before. Rain-soaked and unfamiliar racetracks are often where new stars shine for the first time, however- whether it’s Stewart at the Nürburgring, Senna at Monaco, Perez at Malaysia, or … I guess Saavedra at Indy, whose previous best qualifying result was 9th place at Barber in 2013. “I love the rain,” said the Colombian driver. “It was crazy at first because we didn’t know what to expect from the track. If it was going to be wet, if it was going to be dry. We were comfortable yesterday, as it got hotter, we just needed to work a little bit more – especially with the rain. We made a huge leap (in qualifying) and then the whole session was just weird. It started to rain and went from wet, to dry, to super dry, to super wet. I loved it.”
So, yeah. The guy likes racing in the rain, it seems- and that’s usually the hallmark of a champion. We’ll get to see, later today, if he can hang on to the top spot or if he just got lucky in the chassis/tire department. As for the rest of the field starting the Indianapolis GP, they’ll be lined up like this at the start …
|Car No.||Driver||Team/Engine||Grid Pos.|
|98||Jack Hawksworth (R)||Chevy||2|
|2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevy||8|
|18||Carlos Huertas (R)||Honda||17|
|34||Carlos Munoz (R)||Honda||19|
|41||Martin Plowman (R)||Honda||20|
|7||Mikhail Aleshin (R)||Honda||25|
… and, if it stays dry, look for the Penske trio of Will Power, former Indy winner Juan Pablo Montoya, and the “throwback” Pennzoil Chevrolet no. 3 (below, update your spotter’s guides) driven by 30-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves to power through the pack and take the top spots at the Indianapolis GP. I know it’s an easy bet, but they’re the best team in IndyCar racing for a reason.
UPDATE: Helio is driving the yellow submarine at the Indy 500, NOT at today’s Indianapolis GP … which is confusing as all get-out, but there it is.