Indianapolis 500 pole qualifying yesterday was superb theater, with drivers running their cars on knife’s edge and presenting us with big moments and record speeds. Scott Dixon took pole position–his fifth–with a record qualifying four-lap average of 234.046 mph. A communication from the NTT IndyCar Series clarifies that Dixon broke the all-time pole record of 233.718 set in 1996 by Scott Brayton. Arie Luyendyk set the all-time four-lap qualifying record of 236.986, also in 1996, but his run came on the second day of qualifications and he wasn’t eligible for the pole.
The new format grouped the top 12 drivers from Saturday’s full-field qualifying session for Sunday’s playoff-style shootout for the pole. Each of the top six from that round advanced for a final four-lap run to determine those final starting positions for the race, to be held Sunday.
All of the top-six cars came from Chip Ganassi Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing. Notable absentees were the Andretti and Penske cars. Two McLaren-Chevrolets will start in the top 10.
After practicing well all week, Jimmie Johnson survived a big skid during his pole-qualifying attempt and will start 12th.
Helio Castroneves, winner last year of his fourth Indy 500, lines up in 27th.
My ideal finish would match Castroneves (below left in my photo) and Johnson (right, my photo) fighting it out for the win, with the ultimate finish being determined by who has the better fastball.
Los Angeles Times has had it with Musk
It’s been a rough few weeks for Elon Musk. Besides skyrocketing prices for commodities such as lithium and nickel, Tesla shares are down 30 percent, sales in China have collapsed because of the Covid lockdown, and the S&P 500 ESG index for socially responsible companies has thrown out Tesla.
A terrible crash on May 12 in Newport Beach, California, claimed the lives of three in a Model S, and NHTSA is investigating Tesla again. It’s worth recalling that Lawrence D. Burns stuck a finger in Elon’s grille in the 2018 book “Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car–and How It Will Reshape Our World.”
“The first Autopilot system was essentially an inferior version of the traffic-jam assist project Chauffeur [the Google self-driving car project] had aborted back in 2012,” Burns writes with co-author Christopher Shulgan. “We [at Chauffeur] all thought Tesla was being far too aggressive in its marketing of the service.”
The day before the Newport Beach crash, a judge ruled that a Florida case against Tesla will go to trial in July after the fiery deaths of two high school seniors in the 2018 crash of a Model S.
On top of everything else, lurid details have emerged in a sex scandal, and in typically graceless fashion, Musk is taunting the victim, calling the scandal “Elongate” and challenging her to identify his own unique physical characteristics.
The Los Angeles Times is calling for his scalp. Columnist Michael Hiltzik writes that “it seems more likely than not that Elon Musk has broken the law” in his attempt to take over Twitter. As Hiltzik points out, the SEC has the authority to ban an individual for life from association with a public company.
“Musk adheres to the tradition of taking legal and regulatory forbearance as an inducement and invitation to demand more,” Hiltzik writes.
More is never enough, but we’re getting enough of Elon Musk.
And what would Tesla Motors look like then?
Livestock upended … and my singing debut
The Wall Street Journal on May 20 titled an op-ed: “The Electric-Vehicle Unicorn Crash.”
How sad, because after an EV unicorn crashes, its horn don’t work.
Note: Thank you to Maurice Merrick for coming to my desert hideaway last week and talking to me for his Horsepower Heritage podcast. To air in coming weeks, the episode is slated to offer the first-ever live song performance on Horsepower Heritage. I can hardly wait to share my singing debut.