Flying high with a broken wing
This is the fourth of four columns by Buddy Lazier of Vail, who started ninth and finished fifth Sunday in the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500. His chances for victory were minimized after three incidents damaged the front wing of his car. The wing was replaced once, but not after the two other incidents. Lazier won the race in 1996 and Sunday’s finish was his best in five years. He drove the Panther/Jonathan Byrd’s/ESPN 950 AM Dallara/Chevrolet. By Buddy Lazier Special to the Daily
We had an awesome race car today. With 40 laps to go I thought we had a car and a motor that could win the race. Unfortunately, I came together with another driver after he started blocking me. After hitting him, my front wing was destroyed and I went into the grass. After you go into the grass and bend your car, it starts pushing and it doesn’t allow you to do the things you want to do. If you could see that wing you would be amazed that my car would run that well with a broken wing.I made a lot of passes with the broken wing and while I could have come in and replaced it, we would have lost too much track position. It is a testament to my engineers that the car ran so well with a broken wing.In the pits earlier in the race I had another incident that forced us to replace my front wing. Overall I had three incidents today that damaged my wing.
My crew worked throughout the weekend to repair our car after Friday’s incident in the practice session. A bolt broke and they replaced and fixed everything that could possibly be done for the race. I had complete confidence in their work and knew the car would be perfect, which it was.When the race started everyone behaved and we had a good clean start. Throughout the race traffic was heavy. When you have a great race car, you can pick off cars quite easily. My water pump broke during the race, which prevented me from taking in much fluid during the race. During pit stops they handed me a water bottle and I would have a few swigs before returning to the track. Afterward I felt quite dehydrated and needed a lot of fluid to replenish my system.If not for all those incidents I think we could have finished second or third. I told my wife before the race that if we could finish in the top five that would be a good day. My hat is off to Chevrolet for providing an exceptional engine.
My agenda now is to get back to full-time racing. There are lots of irons in the fire, so I would like to think something will happen soon. My first love is Indy car racing, so I hope today’s race results help me.
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