Archive for May 19, 2008

By: Wm. LaDow

Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune – A Chicago Sun-Times Media Company
Speedway, Indiana – May 19, 2008


The field is now set for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

“Bump” day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday was one of illusion and late day drama.

Sunny skies were combined with stiff winds making for a very challenging day on the track.

For those who stayed until 6 p.m., they saw 40 minutes of late-day furious activity that saw two drivers bumped and a crash end a valiant attempt by Mario Dominquez to make the field.

Done for the weekend even before the track opened for business was 2007 Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler and his No. 88 American Dream Racing Panoz that crashed terribly in Turn One Saturday afternoon, completely destroying the car

After spending the night at Methodist Hospital for pulmonary contusions and a cervical sprain, Giebler was released Sunday afternoon.

Team owner Eric Zimmerman announced that the team is in the process of acquiring a new Dallara (they were the only team here with an outdated Panoz chassis) and will be entering the June 7 IRL race at Texas Motor Speedway with Jaques Lazier behind the wheel. Following that race, they plan on running three-to-four more races in the 2008 schedule with Giebler returning to the cockpit when he is cleared to drive.

The day’s on-track activities started with a morning practice that saw 13 drivers run 225 laps. At that point, drivers who were still on the outside of the grid looking in were A.J. Foyt IV and Dominquez in the No. 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports Dallara, who was back running after crashing hard Saturday.

Still in Gasoline Alley during the practice session was Max Papis and his Rubicon Race Team trying to get the No. 44 LifeLock Dallara assembled from parts they had been acquiring since his crash, also Saturday morning.

The practice ended prematurely when Davey Hamilton’s No. 22 Vision Racing Dallara blew an engine.

Less than an hour later, the track opened for qualifying.

Foyt was the first to challenge the vast speedway, running a four lap average of 219.075 mph issuing the first “bump” of the day to Marty Roth and placing Buddy Lazier on the bubble.

At 1:14, Papis finally made it on the track with his reconstructed Dallara.

At 1:15, Roth and his No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara ran a qualifying run of 218.965, bumping Lazier from the field and putting Roger Yasukawa on the bubble.

At 2:47 p.m., a freak accident occurred that had many in the paddock shaking their heads, when Foyt made contact with the Turn 3 wall. He initially appeared to have had some sort of mechanical failure on his way out of the pits. By the time he got around the track, the car spun and backed hard into the wall. It was later learned the fuel cap wasn’t properly attached and flew off AJ’s car as he headed into Turn 1. By the time he got to Turn 3, he had ethanol on his tires, lost traction and had the car come around on him. He was released by the Clarian Infield Medical Center with a minor burn on his neck and some singed hair.

The next qualifying attempt came at 4:23 p.m. with Dominquez running a much too slow 217.775 mph four lap average and was unable to crack the field of 33.

At 5:20, the tension that had been simmering all day finally boiled over.

Lazier in the No. 91 Hemelgarn/Johnson Dallara, ran three laps at 217.272 mph, 217.204 mph, and 217.097 mph before waiving off his attempt.

Dominguez then put down a four lap average of 218.620 mph, bumping Yasukawa from the field, but by only one spot, leaving Dominguez himself on the bubble.

Next in line was Yasukawa in the No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/ Beck Motorsports Dallara, who ran a solid first lap of 218.894 mph. But his four lap average of 218.559 mph wasn’t enough as it left him just five hundredths of a second short of making the field.

Papis in the Jason Priestly owned entry, started to roll off next, but a clutch failure finished his day and month.

Then to the cheers of many fans lining the main straightaway, who clearly had made Lazier a sentimental favorite to make the field, Buddy’s car was pushed into the qualifying line.

With Lazier in the cockpit, Dan Wheldon leaned in and said something to Lazier, before he rolled off onto the track. The former Indy 500 winner then went out and blistered his competition with a four-lap average of 219.015 mph, bumping Dominguez from the field and leaving Roth on the bubble.

Yasukawa went out one last time and with an average at 218.476 and failed to bump Roth.

At 5:57 p.m. Dominguez in his No. 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports Dallara finally rolled onto the track for his qualifying run. His first lap of 219.780 looked solid, and as he raced down into the first turn the gun sounded to signal the end of qualifying, leaving a helpless Roth next in the qualifying line.

But it wasn’t to be. Dominguez spun on the exit of Turn 1 making contact with the outside wall.

His car got airborne for just a moment, finally settling on the ground, ending his attempt and his month.

Roth was safely in the race and Buddy Lazier, will start his 16th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.