The new format did force some teams to scramble last weekend because pole day and bubble day (the last chance to qualify) were back-to-back, rather than eight days apart. In the past teams could spend up to a week preparing to qualify with light fuel tanks, special chassis setups and engines that sacrificed reliability for quick power. This time teams had to alternate between qualifying setups and more conservative race setups, and "that interrupted our flow," says defending champ Arie Luyendyk, who had little time to solve several engine problems last weekend and as a result will start 28th in the field of 33 on Sunday.
All in the Family
Another Unser Rookie at Indy
A sixth member of the Unser clan qualified to drive for the first time this year at Indy, and the rookie has an advisory committee that boasts a collective nine wins in the 500. Robby Unser, 30, the youngest son of three-time Indy winner Bobby, nephew of four-time winner Al and cousin of two-time winner Al Jr., will start in row 7 on Sunday.
That committee also lends support to Johnny Unser, 39, son of Bobby's and Al's elder brother, Jerry, who died of injuries suffered in a crash during practice at the Brickyard in 1959. Johnny—a junior high teacher and coach in Sun Valley, Idaho, who's not as active in racing as his kin—will be making his third consecutive Indy start, this time in row 9.