Rookie Nelson Philippe finally solved some of his car problems Saturday.
Ryan Hunter-Reay is still befuddled by the slower-than-expected speeds.
Now both drivers must wait impatiently through one more restless night and one more agonizing day of qualifying to make this year's Indianapolis 500 starting grid.
The disparity between how the two drivers felt after tentatively putting themselves in the 33-car field during the third round of time trials was etched clearly on their faces. Philippe smiled. Hunter-Reay looked concerned.
"The RPMs are where we want them to be, I just wish I had an answer," Hunter-Reay said. "My teammate confirmed the issues I was having with the car when he got in it. It's somewhere in the math problem, and we've not found a solution yet. So I don't know."
Philippe, of France, can empathize with Hunter-Reay's plight.
During the first qualifying weekend on Indy's 2.5-mile oval, the 22-year-old former Champ Car driver crashed, an image he replayed in his mind for three days when the track was closed.
When he returned to the track Thursday, things felt so out of sorts that Philippe said it was "scary."
On Friday, the car seemed only slightly better, posting the slowest fast lap (217.596 mph) of 31 drivers in practice.
By Saturday morning, Philippe and his HVM Racing team appeared to turn the corner.
He went 219.304 in the morning practice in his No. 00 car, then had to wait through a rain delay that wiped out more than half of the six-hour qualifying window Saturday. Then he had to contend with changing weather conditions. The morning's overcast skies were replaced by sunshine and gusty winds, but Philippe had few problems.
"I was definitely a lot more comfortable," he said afterward, beaming with a smile. "Thursday it was very bad. Friday it was pretty bad. Today, it was good."
All that's left is to survive Bump Day.
Philippe was the slowest qualifier on the starting grid with a four-lap average of 218.032.
When the final day of time trials resumes Sunday, three cars will be trying to knock Philippe out of the field unless he withdraws the time and requalifies faster.
"We're on the bubble and for me, that's not good enough," Philippe said. "I told the team, 'Let's not just focus on making it in tomorrow. We want to make 220s and make it in the show."
Hunter-Reay, considered one of America's best young talents, has had his own problems.
After a promising second-place finish in the season-opener at St. Petersburg, he missed the top 10 in each of the next two IndyCar races. Then on May 7, he crashed in practice at Indianapolis.
Since then, little has gone right for the 28-year-old California native, who drives the No. 21 car for Tony George's Vision Racing.
Hunter-Reay posted a fast lap of 219.517 on Friday, 25th of 31 drivers, and slipped to 219.379 in the scheduled 45-minute practice session Saturday morning.
When the rain cleared in the afternoon, Hunter-Reay improved steadily over his four-lap run, qualifying 30th with a 219.502. That puts Hunter-Reay in a slightly stronger position than Philippe on Sunday but with less wind and sunshine expected Sunday, anything under 220 mph is not necessarily a safe enough speed to sit on.
And Hunter-Reay knows it.
"We're trimming to levels where we should be another 2 mph quicker, and we're not," he said. "I appreciate this opportunity, we just need to get a handle on things pretty quick. It's tough for me. I know how it should be for us, and it's not, so it's tough."
Other drivers who could get bumped include Dreyer & Reinbold Racing teammates John Andretti, who is 31st at 219.442, and Venezuela's Milka Duno, 32nd at 218.040, after nearly brushing the wall during her first qualifying run.
Buddy Lazier, the 1996 Indy winner, Bruno Junqueira, the 2002 pole winner, and Stanton Barrett still have not qualified for the race.
But for Hunter-Reay and Philippe, the attempt to find more speed overnight may also mean taking more risks Sunday.
"In my eyes, I've not qualified yet," Philippe said. "It's going to be a good night (of rest). We're going to make some changes and have a good day tomorrow because we need it."