But the Unser fans had reckoned without Wreckaford. All through practice the Texas-born Rutherford had looked tough, and he was getting better day by day, as if the rain was making him grow. His first lap was the quickest of the day—171.135—and the crowd that makes the No. 1 turn a pipeline of people and pork sausages yelled with puzzled excitement. Then Rutherford slipped on the second lap to a 169.907. "He scared himself on that first lap," they said. If he had taken his last warmup lap as his first qualifying lap instead of waiting another turn before raising his arm to signal his readiness, Wreckaford would have won the pole. That warmup lap was turned at 170 plus, while his last lap of the four "legal" ones went at 169.747.
All in all it was a day of qualifying that promised a good, tight race on May 30. There was a speed gap of only two mph between Unser and the eighth-fastest qualifier, Andretti. Between them, in order, came Rutherford, Foyt, Roger McCluskey, Donohue, Art Pollard and Bobby Unser. By the time the rains came again, 17 cars had made the starting lineup. Sunday added 10 more, topped by Revson, who turned 167.942 mph. Ruby spoke a bit loudly to his silent majority special and used up three—count 'em, three—engines, but will doubtless be back to qualify this weekend. As for the 27 drivers safely in, Jim Hurtubise and his Mallard were not among them, even though it had been fine weather for ducks.