JOHN ANDRETTI SURVIVES HIGH-DRAMA ON BUMP DAY AT INDY
Indy Native Qualifies For Tenth Indy 500 With Five Minutes Left Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS (May 17, 2009)-- Bump Day drama can even affect an Indy 500 veteran like John Andretti. But the Indy native shook off any nerves Sunday in last-ditch qualifying effort to make his tenth Indianapolis 500 field.
Driving his No. 43 Richard Petty Window World Honda Dallara, Andretti had not been fast enough to make the 33-driver field in his first two qualifying attempts Sunday with a best of 220.2 miles per hour with twenty minutes remaining in time trials. But a quick change by the Window World crew helped the NASCAR regular make the field in his third and final attempt.
With six minutes left in Bump Day, Andretti posted laps of 221.571, 221.393, 221.201 and 221.098 for a four-lap of 221.316 m.p.h. and claim the 28th spot in next Sunday's starting grid. Andretti's start will be his third consecutive at Indy after taking a 13-year hiatus to drive on the NASCAR circuit.
In fact, Charlotte NASCAR winner Tony Stewart even texted DRR competition director Larry Curry for advise for Andretti during the afternoon qualifying excitement. The text said, "If he is uneasy about opening the entry, ask him to let it have its head on the exit. He is a full car width off the wall on the exit binding it up."
Andretti wasn't the only Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver to re-qualify, as rookie Mike Conway turned in a superb effort with an average of 221.417 m.p.h. and the 27th starting position in the No. 24 Purex DRR Honda Dallara on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, Milka Duno, in the No. 23 CITGO DRR Honda Dallara, recorded a solid 221.106 m.p.h. qualifying average to score the 31st position for Sunday's race. This will be Duno's third Indy 500 start.
The Sunday weather conditions were outstanding for qualifying attempts, and Conway will hoping to work on race setup after qualifying Saturday. But all three DRR drivers needed to return to the tech line and re-qualify for a spot in the field. Duno and Conway's attempts easily put them in the field, but Andretti's three tries kept the Window World team scrambling right to the end of the day.
DREYER & REINBOLD: DENNIS REINBOLD, Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing:
"It was just a great day for us. We started out pretty methodical. We put Milka in the show first, and everything went according to plan. We then did the same with Mike. We pulled him out and then we solidly got Mike in the field. We struggled with John for a while. Toward the second run John said the car was stuck so we took some more down force off and went for it in the last run and that was great."
JOHN ANDRETTI, No. 43 Richard Petty Window World Honda Dallara:
"I'm exhausted. I don't want to do this anymore, to be honest. Just coming down pit road, you would have thought that I won the race. I couldn't hear the crowd, but I could see them standing and waving. The fans have always been behind me at Indianapolis. The team did such a great job. We tried something different in practice today. We got advice, and it was one of those things that we couldn't get to work. We went back (garage) and took (teammate) Mike Conway's shocks and springs and put them on my car. It made the car really nice to drive. It was a nice run. I give all the credit to my teammates. I'm the old man, and I had to fight the hardest, and it's not supposed to be that way. I've always looked at these guys on the bubble on Bump Day and absolutely felt for them. I was with Marty Roth last year and the jubilation was unbelievable. I can't imagine how embarrassed I would have been to call Richard Petty and have him ask, "Where do you start?" And I don't (start). It's been a very, very tough day. I'm going to say that one is for my dad (Aldo Andretti). My dad is such a strong supporter -- I know this was a challenge that he would appreciate.."
MIKE CONWAY, No. 24 Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara:
"Yesterday, I didn't know what time I had to do; today I was sure of what time I had to do. We knew we would be quicker because it was cooler. I just had to get in the right frame of mind. I really pushed it on that first lap. We put up a good number, and then I was just trying to keep it consistent. I am getting more comfortable with the car every run. The car feels good underneath me. It was still a bit windy through Turn 1. I had to keep it flat and consistent. Hopefully we've done enough to be safely in the field."
DAVEY HAMILTON, No. 44 HP Kingdom Racing Honda Dallara:
"Fortunately we had two fuel runs going first. One was really good and the second was not as good. The most important thing was to get this team in the show. With only a couple of hours left and John was on the outside looking in, my whole team and the Hewlett Packard car chose to turn around. We were on our way out there, but we wanted to give all the Window World guys a hand and make sure his car was proper. "
MILKA DUNO, No. 23 CITGO Dreyer & Reinbold Honda Dallara:
"We corrected a few things on the line with Davey Hamilton, my teammate, this morning. They made the car better. You can make a fast lap, but if you are not consistent, you do nothing in qualifying. You have to keep a fast time for four laps together. They did a good job with the car. It was so great. The car was so good in practice, and you see we were faster in the practice this morning. The car was much better today. Remember that yesterday when I tried to qualify the first time, I lost the front completely in Turn 1 or 2. I don't want to see that. Today we practiced and made different changes by the engineer and it has a better balance. "