Lazier crashes at the start of final practice |

Lazier crashes at the start of final practice

Steve HermanAP Sports Writer
AP photoVail's Buddy Lazier slides along the track in his car after it struck the wall in the fourth turn during Carburetion Day practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday in preparation for Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

INDIANAPOLIS – Buddy Lazier’s final practice for the Indianapolis 500 was over before it began.The former winner was still getting up to speed Friday when his car went into the outside wall in the fourth turn. He slid along the main straightaway and stopped near the scoring pylon.”We were just warming up, so I can’t tell you what happened,” said the 1996 Indy winner, who was not injured. “But it’s clear, you can see sparks from under the car. … I entered Turn 4 and I heard a click, a big snap, and it just took off to the wall.”Lazier, who was clocked at 189.3 mph just before the crash, was checked at the infield hospital and released. The No. 95 Panther Racing car had heavy damage to the right side, and if it cannot be repaired, Lazier would have to start Sunday’s race from the rear of the 33-car field in his backup car.The team said that as of Friday afternoon that it would make every effort to repair the car.Panther co-owner Doug Boles said the crash apparently was caused by a mechanical problem.The other 32 drivers completed the one-hour Carburetion Day practice, their final time on the track before the race.Rookie Danica Patrick, who will start fourth on Sunday, was the fastest at 225.597 mph. Pole-starter Tony Kanaan was right behind at 225.451 mph, followed by series point leader Dan Wheldon at 225.262 and two-time series champion Sam Hornish Jr. at 225.003.”We weren’t coming out here trying to be the fastest, but it’s always good to be,” Patrick said. “It’s good for confidence, and it’s good to see that your car can do it. … I think there were some people trying to push it to be faster but we stuck up there.”Kanaan, the runner-up last year to Buddy Rice, said he didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances.”We’ve had all month to prep for this,” he said. “We just wanted to see if everything was OK. We don’t have any leaks or anything, so I’m happy. We’re ready for the race.”

The Team Penske crew for driver Sam Hornish Jr. won the annual Indy Pit Stop contest on Friday, snapping a two-year win streak for Rahal Letterman Racing.Led by crew chief Matt Jonsson, Hornish’s crew changed all four tires and simulated a refueling in 8.97 seconds. Driver Bryan Herta’s crew for Andretti Green Racing was second in 9.92 seconds.”Momentum is everything,” said car owner Roger Penske, whose crews have won the annual competition eight times. “The pit stop contest is something we’ve always challenged our guys on.”I take my hat off to Matt. … We’re going to need that same precision, no mistakes, on Sunday,” Penske said.Penske crews for Helio Castroneves won the competition in 2002 and were second to the Rahal Letterman crews for Buddy Rice the past two years.”Today was about these guys and what they’re able to do,” Hornish said of his crew. “Sometimes they don’t get recognized, but they showed what they’re capable of doing.”

Cole Carter’s first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ended the same way his grandfather’s rookie race ended 57 years ago – against the wall.The younger Carter was the first driver out of the Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100 on Friday after crashing on the first lap. He was not injured.He also spun – but did not make contact with the wall – on a warmup lap and had to start the race from the rear of the 18-car field.”There was a slow car in front of me and I tried to slow down for him,” Carter said. “The back end of the car came around on me.”His grandfather, Duane Carter, was 22nd after he crashed during his first Indianapolis 500 in 1948. Pancho Carter – Duane’s son and Cole’s father – was seventh in 1974, the first of his 17 starts at Indy. Pancho started from the pole in 1985 but lasted only six laps because of a bad oil pump.Friday’s race was the first for Cole Carter in the Infiniti Pro Series, the IRL’s developmental program.

Jimmy Kite drove a few demonstration laps Friday in a car powered by a new fuel blend the Indy Racing League will use next season.Indy cars have used methanol since 1965, when the pure methyl alcohol synthetic replaced the more combustible gasoline.Beginning next year, the IRL will use a blend of 90 percent methanol and 10 percent ethanol, an alcohol created by distilling grain mash, usually from corn. In 2007, the cars will go to 100 percent ethanol, which is cleaner burning and more fuel efficient.Kite, whose car had the 90-10 blend on Friday, will make his fifth Indy start Sunday in the No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing car, which is sponsored by the ethanol industry.

Tom Carnegie, longtime Indianapolis Motor Speedway public address announcer, was released from the hospital and plans to call the race on Sunday.Carnegie, 85, was hospitalized for tests Wednesday after feeling ill at the track.”Everything is fine,” he said Friday. “They believe it was dehydration. The doctors did a lot of tests, and there is no problem with my heart.”Carnegie, a retired sports anchor at Indianapolis television station WRTV, has been the PA voice of the Indianapolis 500 since 1946. Last year, he was inducted into the Indiana Associated Press Broadcast Association Hall of Fame.

Mike Harris, motorsports writer for The Associated Press, received a lifetime achievement award Friday for 25 years of service as a member of the Speed Channel Driver of the Year selection panel. … WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster waved the green flag starting Friday’s final practice. Brewster, who is from Indianapolis, knocked out Andrew Golota 53 seconds into their scheduled 12-round bout in Chicago last week. … Arthur Floru, a major in the Rhode Island Air National Guard and a combat veteran in Iraq and Afghanistan, is an assistant fueler for the Playa Del Racing team and driver Jaques Lazier. Floru, who returned home last month, presented the team with an American flag he flew during his last tour in Iraq.Vail, Colorado

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