Archive for May 23, 2011

Speedway Sightings at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune, a Chicago Sun-Times Publication
May 23, 2011

After two rain delays and a thrilling final hour of qualifying, the field is now set for the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Marco Andretti rolled onto the legendary track as the gun sounded to reclaim his place in the field after having just been bumped by last year’s fourth-place Indy 500 finisher Alex Lloyd. Andretti was forced to bump his own Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay to make the race.

After being bumped earlier by Danica Patrick, Lloyd’s stirring qualifying effort (in his final attempt) brought a roar from the speedway crowd with just minutes left in qualifying.

Driving for Plainfield, Illinois-based Dale Coyne Racing, Lloyd said “Once I saw the speed from the first lap, I said to myself “We’re either going to be in the wall or in the show.”

Qualifying for the race with a speed of 223.957 mph, Lloyd’s words proved accurate as his final two laps eclipsed 224 mph and were faster than his first two. In the third lap, Lloyd’s engine in the No, 34 Boy Scouts of America, Honda-Dallara began to vibrate so violently it affected his vision. Not be denied, he continued to run the car flat-out until he took the checkered flag.

That set the stage for Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti. After strategically getting in and out of the qualifying line to insure he could get back on the track for one final qualifying run, it became apparent that with Lloyd’s successful run, Marco’s No. 26 Team Venom car effort to get back into the field was going to be reduced to out-qualifying his own teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was on the bubble. This after they had both out-qualified teammate Mike Conway in the No. 27 car, another Andretti Autosport entry.

Marco made the field by a posting a solid 224.628 mph run.

For Michael Andretti, the day proved to be in his own words “The worst ever as an owner.” A somber Andretti discussed his frustration with the team’s ”Month of May” effort while still on pit lane. “We had 3 fast cars and 2 slow cars when we unloaded and we still don’t know why we couldn’t find the speed. I just feel so bad for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and Mike (Conway) and their sponsors. I don’t know what to say, I just don’t have the words.”