Lazier qualifies for Indianapolis 500 start
SPEEDWAY, Indiana — Former Indianapolis 500 champion and Vail local Buddy Lazier used 42 practice laps prior to placing his No. 44 Lazier Racing-Stalk- It-Tivoli Lodge Chevrolet in the field for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. His four-lap average was 223.417, giving him a starting position of 30th.
“We feel really good about what we’ve been able to do in a short amount of time; obviously we would like to go quicker,” said the Colorado native Lazier, who added The Factory at D1 Sports as a sponsor earlier this week. “Since we started on Friday, we’ve just been moving forward every session, gaining and gaining. We ran quicker this morning so I had high hopes but that’s all she had, she was wide open. Every session we are gaining more and more comfort in my Chevrolet. We haven’t strayed from having a race day car, we are here to race, so we just put a little bit of qualifying on it. We should be much better on race day and I expect Monday to be very busy and productive for us.”
30 laps to qualify
The Lazier Racing Chevrolet first rolled out for practice during happy hour on Thursday turning two laps for an install and telemetry check. He returned to the track early Friday, needing two laps to get his car up to speeds of 215 mph. By the close of the day, he had clocked in 30 laps with a quick time of 219.640. Saturday saw the veteran turn laps over 221 during final practice, putting up a four-lap qualifying average of 221.427. Sunday, Lazier was touring the track at a quick time 225.198, before heading out for the final qualifying session to set the field.
Lazier’s first Indy 500 came in 1991 when he finished 33rd. It took Lazier only five years to do what every driver here dreams about: to kiss the yard of bricks when he won the 1996 Indy 500 (with a broken back). He has come close to repeating that feat two more times, finishing second in 1998 and 2000.
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If Lazier is first to the checkered flag again this year, his 20th race around the famed Brickyard, then he will become the oldest winning driver, replacing Al Unser Sr., who was 47 when he won his final Indy 500 in 1987.
“It’s really special, we love this place, for me in particular, 20 starts is an important milestone for myself,” Lazier said. “I hate doing it like this, sort of last minute, but know we’d like to maybe make another run were we have a shot to win. Nevertheless, it’s something I take pride in and I do really enjoy being here and will never take that for granted.”
Following weekend qualifying, practice will resume Monday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and will be an important one for Lazier as he turns his attention to raceday setup. Miller Lite Carb Day, which includes the final one-hour practice before the race, is set for Friday. The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday airs on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts Indycar Radio Network (11 a.m. ET).