INDIANAPOLIS -- We've gone through the qualifying line one time here, and the Speedway has done what it usually does: Mess with people's heads.
On the pole, for the time being, is Alex Tagliani, who sounded none too comforted. Apparently a major wind shift and warmer temps have turned the Speedway into a very different place than it was the last couple of days, and even this morning, when there was siginifcant sunshine that's gone now. That, according to Tagliani, made his four laps the least comfortable he's run here all week.
Of course, Indy is a place where the unexpected always waits right offstage, snickering, waiting to pull the rug out from under conventional wisdom. And so here were Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti from Team Ganassi -- who ran mostly race setups until late in the day on Fast Friday -- putting up the second and third quickest times right out of the gate. And here was Helio Castroneves, who posted the month's fastest time in the dying minutes Friday, going 3 mph slower and missing out, so far, on the Fast Nine. Right now he sits 16th on the grid.
Among the Fast Nine right now are Tagliani, Townsend Bell, Ed Carpenter, Oriol Servia and Buddy Rice. Not among them are Helio, Ryan Briscoe (who stuck his primary ride in the fence this morning) and all three Andretti Autosport cars. In fact, none of the five Andretti cars (Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, John Andretti, Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay) are even in the first-day field of 24 yet.
And with a band of rainshowers threatening off to the west, that could mean Andretti Autosport might be out of look today.