Welcome back to IBJ's video feature "At the Track," in which videographer Mason King views events leading up to the Indianapolis 500 on May 27 from the perspective of up-and-coming driver E.J. Viso and his team at locally based KV Racing Technology.
When last we left Viso and his cadre of engineers and mechanics, they had hit a dead end with the No. 5 car, encountering understeering and unwanted vibrations as they struggled to get the vehicle stable and up to speed in time for qualifying. Mechanical issues have flummoxed Viso in previous seasons—contributing to his past reputation as a somewhat erratic driver—and the team saw the need to re-establish a base line for the car with a few practice days left.
"It’s been a very up-and-down week,” the 26-year-old Viso said. “We’ve had some very low moments. To be honest, probably during Tuesday and Wednesday, we didn’t know what to do. But we just regrouped and reloaded. We studied all our information and put it all together."
In four previous starts at the Speedway, Viso had managed a best qualifying position of 18th. For Saturday’s pole competition, Viso’s bottom line was fairly simple: Qualify in the top 24 cars, so the team could spend Sunday concentrating on fine-tuning the vehicle. (Remaining cars would shoot it out for the last nine positions on Sunday.)
KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser, who has taken Viso under his wing during this IndyCar season, thought Viso and the car were capable of finishing in the single digits. “We’re not really in a position to fight for the pole, but we’re in a position to fight for a good, solid, top-10 starting spot.”
In the video above, IBJ follows Viso and the crew for car No. 5 as they prepare for the qualifying in scorching heat (134 degrees on the track). The result more than met their expectations—an average speed of 224.422 mph, good for ninth overall and a third-row starting spot.
In a canny bit of strategizing, the KV brain trust opted not to compete outright for the pole position in the following Fast Nine shootout, in which the top nine cars hit the track again to re-establish starting position. In the video, Viso explains the decision to hang back and keep his ninth-place starting spot.
Coincidentally, all three of KV’s drivers finished in consecutive top-10 positions on Saturday. Tony Kanaan, who also pitted early during the Fast Nine, will start eighth. Formula One legend Rubens Barrichello, will start 10th.
For previous editions in the "At the Track" series, see below.