Prior to Saturday’s Little 500 Qualifications, only 10 men’s teams had ever posted times under 2:20 during qualifications.
On Saturday, that list grew to 14 after the Cutters, Delta Tau Delta, Black Key Bulls and Wright all qualified with times under 2:20.
Cutters took this year’s pole position with a time of 2:18.779.
“We came in with the second-fastest practice qualification,” Cutters captain Chris Pilipiszyn said. “We entered today with a lot of confidence, and I would say all of us are confident with doing one lap hard. That’s what Quals is. You’ve got to stay out of your own head.”
Pilipiszyn said he thought the conditions were terrific and everything went perfectly, especially the exchanges.
Late in the day, Delta Tau Delta shot up the board with an impressive run of 2:19.739, led by two laps by Luke Tormoehlen because the team only had three riders. If they had four, they might have been able to take the pole position.
The third-fastest time belonged to last year’s runner-up, the Black Key Bulls, which posted a time of 2:19.958. Their run seemed effortless, but a botched second exchange cost the team a chance to take the pole position.
“It’s tough with Quals because we knew we were one of about five teams that could get the pole, and the small things matter,” Black Key Bulls captain Nick Hartman said. “We were anxious coming in. Our second guy came in too fast on that exchange, but we fixed it quickly.”
Wright Cycling was the fourth team that finished under 2:20 and ended the day with a time of 2:19.982.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon held pole position for a while but finished the day in eighth place with a time of 2:22.946.
The major storyline from the early part of Qualifications was the two faults of defending champion Sigma Phi Epsilon. It ended up making it into the field of 33 on the team’s third attempt, but it finished in 22nd place.
The teams who failed to qualify were Sigma Pi, Election Cycle, Phi Kappa Tau, Delta Upsilon, Delta Sigma Phi, Air Force, Kappa Sigma and Cru.