Buddy Lazier qualifies for Indy 500
INDIANAPOLIS – One of the Lazier brothers joined the provisional field for the 91st Indianapolis 500 during Sunday’s second-day qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the other one still is missing from the lineup.The first 11 provisional starting positions on the 33-car grid were settled Saturday, with 11 more spots filled Sunday.Buddy Lazier, the 1996 Indy 500 winner, grabbed one of those spots just after 10 a.m., got bumped from the lineup in afternoon and then fought his way back into the field with less than 15 minutes left in the six-hour session.Even then he had to survive a last-minute bid by Jaques Lazier, the younger of the Vail natives, before he could claim the inside spot on Row 8 for the start of the May 27 race.Buddy Lazier averaged 220.452 miles per hour for his first four-lap run in Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Dallara/Honda but was eased from the lineup when 2004 winner Buddy Rice posted a 222.826 average more than three hours later. Jon Herb (221.070) was on the bubble when Buddy Lazier went on the track again to qualify. Buddy’s first lap was 221.553, and he went on to post a 221.380 average.
“We came back to a setup that we knew,” Buddy said. “We were losing the rear end on my first run. Tim Neff (the team engineer) brought the car back for me.”Qualifying is always tense, and I’ve always hated qualifying. I enjoy taking it to the maximum, but I hate the unknown.”Jaques Lazier’s last-second bid in Playa Del Racing’s No. 21 Panoz/Honda was waved off after he completed one lap at 220.210.”We tried something a little aggressive,” Jaques said, “and went into Turn 1 and the car went into a lazy slide, and you’re chasing it up toward the wall. There’s a time to go racing and a time not to. Right now we’re just a little bit short.”Brotherly pride
Buddy wasn’t, and Jaques is glad.”I’m very proud and happy for him,” Jaques said. “Obviously I’m happy for Sam as well. That’s a great effort there. It looks like they’ve been struggling a little bit too, and it looks like they had everything put together at the last minute. Good job.””It would have been interesting at our dinner table on Christmas if he would have bumped me out,” Buddy said.Jaques Lazier will be among the favorites to join the lineup next weekend, when 12-15 drivers are expected to compete for the final 11 spots.Positions 12 through 22 for the Indy 500 were filled during the second round of qualifications Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rahal Letterman Racing’s Scott Sharp (223.87 mph) is in the 12th spot of the provisional starting grid followed by teammate Jeff Simmons (223.693) 13th and Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter (223.495) in the 14th spot.Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves (225.817) won the pole Saturday. Andretti Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan (225.757) will start second, and his teammate Dario Franchitti (225.191) will complete the front row.Practice resumes Wednesday through Friday with final time trials next weekend. Positions 23 through 33 are available Saturday. Bump Day is Sunday, allowing any qualifying attempt that is faster than a qualified entrant to bump the slowest qualifier from the field. The 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 will air live on ABC Sports on Sunday, May 27 at 11:00 a.m.
============Getting to know your carBy Buddy LazierI’ve always hated qualifying. I enjoy taking it to the maximum, but I dislike the unknown. And sometimes there’s a big unknown as to what the car is going to do.When you work with good people, like team owner Sam Schmidt, engineer Tim Neff and this crew, it makes qualifying that much easier. I’m happy to be working with this team.
I would rather qualify when I did Sunday than come back and do it on Bubble Day.It was kind of wild at the end Sunday with two brothers out there. Jaques went out after I qualified. It would have been interesting at our dinner table on Christmas Day if he would have bumped me out.Actually we came back to a setup that we knew on that final run. I was losing the rear-end in Turn 1 on my first run, and it was Tim who brought the car back for me.We went out for practice Sunday morning and started from scratch. We optimized what we had and recognized around 5 o’clock that we had some speed. We came back to something that we knew, and that really worked.This team has done a great job. They haven’t had a break for the last seven days – now they can breathe comfortably because we’re in the field. We’ve got great equipment, but we haven’t had much time with it.When practice resumes Wednesday, we can focus on Race Day. We will gain so quickly with this car. We’ve only had it for a week. We’re starting to understand the car, and that’s a relief. We’re here to finish among the top five on Race Day.We clicked into qualifying mode and now we can go back to what we need to do – make some money on Race Day.