Power survives brush with wall to join Karam and De Silvestro on grid

Only three of the five drivers taking part would secure a space, meaning 2015 podium finisher Charlie Kimball and RC Enerson were the two to miss out.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Karam, a seven-time starter in the Indy 500, was the first driver to hit the track with a 230mph opening lap, followed by a 229.4, a 228.8 and a 228.3 creating a four-lap average of 229.156mph.

Next out was Power, whose first lap only matched Karam, his second lap was only as good as Karam’s fourth, his third was a 228.8 but on the fourth lap the #12 Penske slid up the track and grazed the right-rear along the Turn 2 wall.

He stayed on the throttle, but the resultant 227.5 lap dragged his average down to 228.876mph.

The Penske team checked over his car, discovered the toelink had been knocked out, but changing it would oblige the team to pull his speed, so they preferred to sit and wait to see if their driver was going to be bumped.

De Silvestro was the most consistent driver on the first runs, losing only 1mph from lap 1 to lap 4, but the Paretta Autosport entry’s first lap was only 228.8, so she was now sitting third on an average of 228.353mph and on the bubble. However, consistency had been a stranger the day before, so the team had made progress overnight.

Her speed survived Charlie Kimball’s first run in the #11 AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet, which produced a 228.35 opener but bled 1.1mph by lap 4, resulting in an average of 227.811mph.

Charlie Kimball, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

Charlie Kimball, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

That time-bleed was the same as RC Enerson, who turned his fastest laps of the week in the Top Gun Racing car, but his average was about 0.5mph off Kimball.

Enerson’s time was then disallowed for an unapproved change, but there was no harm in that as Top Gun wasn’t in the danger zone; it wasn’t in the race, and therefore had nothing to lose. Enerson told NBC his crew couldn’t trim any more downforce out of the car so were seeking to make the car faster in a straight line.

The atmosphere remained tense, however, as at the halfway point of the 75-minute session, the track temperature dipped.

The Foyt team also pulled Kimball’s time to make adjustments to the #11, appearing to crank out a lot of rear wing.

With 17 minutes to go, Enerson hit the track once more in the car, with a paint job that pays tribute to the Johnny Lightning Special Colts in which Al Unser won the 1970 and ’71 Indy 500s. But his first lap of this run was 227.2, his second was 226.7, his third was 226.8 and his fourth was 226.44, producing an average of 226.8mph.

Race director Kyle Novak gave Kimball the thumbs-up with seven minutes to go, and the fourth AJ Foyt entry went out on track, but the first lap stayed stubbornly under the 228mph barrier. The consistency was impressive – 227.988 down to 227.295 – but the average over four laps was 227.584mph – around 0.75mph slower than De Silvestro.

Karam will therefore start his eighth Indy 500 from 31st, Power his 14th from 32nd, and De Silvestro her sixth from 33rd, while Kimball and Enerson were eliminated.

Simona De Silvestro, Paretta Autosport Chevrolet

Simona De Silvestro, Paretta Autosport Chevrolet

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

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