Indy 500 Bump Day delivers drama in spades once again

Katherine Legge summed up the totality of her first experience of being at risk of failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 after being relegated to the Last Chance Qualifying session on Sunday along with Marcus Ericsson, Graham Rahal, and Nolan Siegel.

“Terrifying,” the Dale Coyne Racing driver said. “I feel sick and shaky and like I want to cry.”

The shakes and onset of tears visited the other three drivers in the LCQ, and when the one-hour session was over, it was her young teammate, 19-year-old rookie Nolan Siegel, who was bumped from the field of 33 after crashing on the final attempt to make the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing.”


“I’m fine, but I don’t really care if I’m fine at this point,” Siegel said. “That’s somewhat irrelevant. We’re going home because we did everything we could, and I think we can be very proud of that. I did the first run, and the balance was fine. If anything, it felt pretty maximized on the trim but we knew we had to have more speed; there was no speed in it as I was flat out for four laps and on the limit of being too loose and crashing the car. We took downforce out of it because we were going to be out of the race anyway. I wasn’t going to go home without lifting. It was the last run in qualifying and I was going to go flat, and I went flat. I hit the wall because we went too far but we tried.

“I want to thank the team for all their hard work. I appreciate everything the team has done. They wanted it too. It’s not like I was the only one in this. They wanted it as well and they worked really, really, really hard for a long time. Big thank you to them. They’re not thanking me for doing a good job. Everyone did a good job. I know ultimately the result doesn’t reflect that, but they worked really hard and I’m super appreciative of all the effort they put in. We were in it together; it’s like family.”

Legge, Ericsson, and Rahal survived to fill out the final row of 11.

Rahal was understandably relieved to be in the show, but wasn’t cheering over how it happened. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Siegel in a RLL car in the near future based on the respect he’s earned from Rahal and his father Bobby Rahal.

“Today was similar to last year,” he said. “We knew he had the speed to get in and look at how close it is. Kat, Marcus, and me — the same time in essence. It’s a game of thousandths around here. If I can say anything, it’s just ‘Great job’ to Dale Coyne Racing because honestly, they were able to successfully find a lot of speed. If you looked at where Nolan was on Friday and even yesterday, they closed the gap to us considerably as we kept losing pace. We were hanging on by a thread. I’ve been talking about that plenty. Kat did a wonderful job finding a couple of miles per hour — something we have not been able to do, frankly. Those guys put up a valiant effort.

“Nolan. Most of you guys don’t know his name but you will. He’s won in every class and category he’s been in. I’ve watched him. I’ve known the kid for 10 years. He was a little, little guy then. But you’re going to know his name in the future. He’s a winner and will be winning at this level sometime soon.”

Ericsson, the 2022 Indy 500 winner, nearly botched his chance to make it into the race after slowing at the conclusion of his third qualifying lap—one lap early—and having to make another attempt to get into the race.

“That was extremely tough, but this place just brings everything out of everyone,” the Swede said. “Today, I was sitting here waiting in pit lane for the chance to go out and get a speed to even make it into the race. It was just very tough mentally, but we did it. I’m very proud of my team. They’ve been fighting so hard the last few days and to finally get the reward of having the chance to fight in the race means a lot.

“The car has been a challenge since we had to go to the backup, but the team worked extremely hard trying to improve it and make it better. Today we had a car that should have safely put us in a guaranteed spot, but I made a mistake on the first run, so we had to dig deep. It was not easy in this heat to go for a second run but we made it work and pulled it off.”

Story originally appeared on Racer