Iinside Indy:/I Bittersweet Pole

INDIANAPOLIS - Even before Scott Sharp had the opportunity to celebrate his Indy 500 pole with his Kelley Racing teammates, there was bad news to report.

Paul Morgan, co-founder of Ilmor Engineering, had died in a plane crash in England.

Ilmor, of course, is an engine builder for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, and an Ilmor-built engine powers Sharp’s No. 8 Dallara-Aurora.

Tom Kelley, owner of Sharp’s car and Mark Dismore’s No. 28 car, heard the news of Morgan’s death from Roger Penske, co-founder of Ilmor with Morgan and Mario Illien.

"Paul Morgan was the open-wheel racing fan in Ilmor," Kelley said. "I know they approached this as a business decision, but they really wanted to be here.

"It breaks my heart for Paul Morgan to miss this."

Penske not only lost a business associate, but also a friend.

"I greatly respected Paul as an astute businessman, who became a close personal friend," said Penske, who is the owner of Gil de Ferran’s and Helio Castroneves’s cars. "All of us at Penske Racing are deeply saddened by the loss of Paul. He and Mario were the driving force at Ilmor, and Paul will be greatly missed by all of his colleagues and friends."

Morgan was 52 years old.

Time Running Out for Gidley: Memo Gidley tapped the wall in Sunday-morning practice at Indianapolis, severely putting his newly formed Brayton Racing team behind the eight ball in its attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Gidley spun his car in Turn 3 and made light contract with the wall. He does not have a backup car.

He was scheduled to be the seventh car out in Sunday’s qualifying, but it appears that he will not be out until later in the day at the earliest.

On Pole Day, Gidley turned in one of his fastest practice times of the month at over 218 mph in his No. 61 Dallara-Aurora.

"Right now we’re going to be fighting for positions to get in the show," Gidley said.

Sunday’s second day of qualifying is one hour shorter than Pole Day, making Gidley’s crash that much more damaging.

Bump Day a Week Early?: With some big names such as Casey Mears, Eliseo Salazar and Davey Hamilton still out of the field and only six of the 33 starting spots open, bumping could begin in Sunday qualifications.

First on the bump list is Buzz Calkins with the slowest speed in the field so far at 220.039 mph in his Bradley Motorsports’ No. 12T Dallara-Aurora. Roberto Guerrero in Dick Simon’s No. 7 Dallara-Aurora at 220.054 mph, Eddie Cheever Jr. in his No. 51T Dallara-Infiniti at 220.513 mph and Michael Andretti at 220.747 in Team Green’s No. 39 Dallara-Aurora are also in danger of being bumped from the field by faster cars.

Cheever was on the track in Sunday’s morning practice with his primary car in anticipation of being ousted from the field. He was above 223 mph, and Calkins was out on the track in his primary car at more than 221 mph.

Other drivers above the magic 221 mph mark included Bruno Junqueira, Nicolas Minassian, Jeret Schroeder and Stan Wattles. If they all qualify, bumping would most certainly begin later on Day 2.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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