Kanaan rallies to earn Indy 500 berth …

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

Speedway Sightings …

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune — May 24, 2010
Speedway, Indiana

With temperatures rising inside and outside the garages along Gasoline Alley, the pressure of the new two-day Indianapolis 500 qualifying format began to show early Sunday morning.

It started with Andretti Autosport reeling from its worst showing in years. The biggest woe was the Tony Kanaan saga. After crashing his primary car during his qualifying attempt Saturday, Kanaan went out early Sunday and drove his backup car into the wall in almost the same location.

Kanaan never started worse than sixth in eight career Indy starts, so it was an especially grueling day. His team cannibalized parts from other cars and used crew members from other teams to get him back on the track. He tested twice during the afternoon, returning to the garage for more adjustments as the car lacked stability.

The Andretti team, already running midpack during Saturday qualifying, still had two cars to get into the show Sunday, with Kanaan and John Andretti on the outside looking in. Andretti qualified 28th with a four-lap average of 224.518 mph. Kanaan placed 32nd in the 33-car field at 224.072.

As the teams prepared for qualifying at noon (EDT), a stunning development came from the Foyt Garage as Anthony Foyt IV was replaced with Jaques Lazier to drive the No. 41 entry owned by his grandfather, A.J. Foyt. It was learned that Foyt IV expressed concern over the performance of the car he was scheduled to qualify later in the afternoon and was promptly replaced.

Early afternoon qualifying saw Andretti, Fisher, Vitor Meira, Alex Lloyd, Sebastian Saavedra, Takuma Sato, Bruno Junqueira, Paul Tracy, Mario Romancini and Jay Howard taking runs, with only Milka Duno waiving off her attempt.

Bryan Herta Motorsports and driver Saavedra suffered what appeared to be a crushing blow, when Saavedra crashed hard coming out of the first turn, heavily damaging the team’s only car, ending any chance to defend their spot already earned.

The final push for qualifying began at 5:23 when Kanaan bumped No. 29 Saavedra. Lazier was next, posting a 223.360, not enough to make the field. Romancini then bettered his position with another run of 224.641.

Duno then began a run, only to be waved off as too slow. Sato, in the No. 5 KV racing entry, then bumped Howard in the No. 66 Fisher car with a run of 224.178. Howard went back out and posted a 223.610, placing Tracy on the bubble.

With only 10 minutes left, Tracy stunned the crowd by relinquishing his spot and trying to requalify at a higher speed in an attempt to move off the bubble. His first two laps of 223.704 and 223.070, proved too slow to continue and his attempt was waved off.

“As soon as the track temperature came up, we couldn’t get a handle on it,” Tracy said. “I was just sitting in the car. When we needed the car to run in the heat, it just wouldn’t run.”

Neither of the next two drivers, Lazier and Duno, completed their qualifying runs due to lack of speed.

Like Tracy, Howard also gambled by waiving his spot and trying to requalify with a higher speed. This put Saavedra back on bubble for a third time, even though he had been in Speedway Medical Care Center and his car was sitting in a heap in the Bryan Herta garage.

Howard’s 223.120 was too slow to retain his position. Without being on the track, rookie Saavedra became the 33rd and final qualifier.

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