Indy 500: Series Third Day Qualifying report

INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD FULL; THREE DRIVERS WILL TRY TO "BUMP" IN ON SUNDAY INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 16, 2009) - The final 11 starting positions for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 were provisionally filled Saturday as 13 drivers combined for 15 ...

INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD FULL; THREE DRIVERS WILL TRY TO "BUMP" IN ON SUNDAY

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 16, 2009) - The final 11 starting positions for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 were provisionally filled Saturday as 13 drivers combined for 15 qualifying attempts during a session delayed by rain by more than 3 hours. At least three drivers will attempt to bump their way into the field on Sunday.

Following a rain delay of 3 hours, 31 minutes, Third Day Qualifying packed plenty of punch as the final 11 spots were filled, one driver was bumped from the field and one driver failed to qualify.

Rookie Robert Doornbos claimed the top spot available, 23rd, with a four-lap qualifying average of 221.692 mph on the 2.5-mile oval. He'll start in the middle of Row 8 with Townsend Bell on his outside.

Row 9 consists of Oriol Servia, Alex Tagliani and Tomas Scheckter, while Row 10 consists of Mike Conway, E.J. Viso and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

John Andretti, Milka Duno and Nelson Phillipe, provisionally filling Row 11, will have to be prepared to defend their positions on Sunday. Buddy Lazier, who was bumped from the field with six minutes remaining, Stanton Barrett, who failed to qualify in the final attempt of the day, and Bruno Junqueira, who signed a last-minute deal with Conquest Racing, will each have three attempts to bump their way into the field.

Following Bump Day, the 33 qualified drivers will have one final practice session on Friday, May 22 before the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

***

Bruno Junqueira, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter and the 2002 polesitter, will drive the No. 36 Conquest Racing entry. The team has primary sponsorship from All Sport/Big Red.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 36 ALL SPORT/BIG RED): "At least I'm here. In years past I came here looking to start on the pole. Now I'm looking to make the field, but if you run the race you have a chance to win. I'm happy with the opportunity Conquest Racing gave me. I've been walking around here two weeks trying to find a ride, and I finally found it. The main thing is to make sure the car works fine today and put it in the field. Then you can work toward having a good race."

ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): "We are very excited to have Bruno join the team. Bruno is a proven winner, and I am fully confident in his abilities to come out and do well despite the limited practice time. Bruno also brings with him a wealth of experience racing here at Indianapolis and we look forward to working with him."

***

The final qualifier for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 field on Bump Day will earn a $50,000 bonus for winning the Firestone Final Qualifier Award.

***

INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY CENTENNIAL ERA FACT OF THE DAY: Alvin Case, 89, is working his 64th Indianapolis 500 this May and is one of the longest-serving employees at the track. Case runs the fire department office located in the infield near Turn 1. He worked for Link-Belt, a chain manufacturing company, from 1939-84, starting in the mail room and retiring as a process engineer. A conversation with Case reveals four loves: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Purdue University, baseball and his grandkids.

(About his start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "The first two years I worked at the gates and took tickets at Gate 3. I remember the first year, 1946, the race was half over and we were still taking tickets. The cars were overheated and everything. It was a mess. The next year, we took tickets again, and just as the bomb sounded, we heard a horrible noise and just about every motorcycle in Indiana jumped ahead of the crowd. Some of them had tickets, and some of them didn't. I thought, 'This isn't for me.' Clarence Cagle moved next to me in my apartment complex and we became good friends, and he put me on the fire department. I've been there ever since. That was in '48. For maybe 12 years I worked on the track. At that time, we had one what we called the crash truck, and it operated out of the pits. Whenever there was a wreck, they'd sound the bell and we jumped on and went around the track. It was not like it is today. It was a little Studebaker that they put fire equipment on. We had a regular fireman that drove it. One time, I think it was 1950, a car caught on fire as it came out of the fourth turn and ended up on the straightaway right before the pits. It was the Brown Motor Car Special. By the time we got all the way around, the thing had burned up. The owner, he was mad. He said he had spent $19,000 while we were riding around the track. That little old Studebaker wasn't very fast. From then on, they put out much better trucks. Today, they've got them all over the place."

(About his office role after 1960): "At that time, I took attendance because back then we didn't have these swipe cards. I issued equipment, always kept a count of all of our extinguishers every day, just ran the office. At one time I knew every extinguisher. We've got over 1,000 extinguishers around this place. It's kept growing and growing and growing. What I liked, our fire office was under the stands right going into the first turn, and victory circle at that time the cars would come right in front of the fire station. We were on the track practically. All these interesting people would come in. I remember Red Adair, the guy who puts out all these oil fires, he came in. Nicest guy in the world. The favorite was Jim Garner. Joe Garagiola came down here one time, and he was really nice. Even when the race would start, before all these new buildings were built, Mari and Tony, young Tony George, would come in when the race started and stay for a few laps."

(About growing up on the west side of Indianapolis): "I lived in Speedway, so you had to love racing. I grew up on the west side of Indianapolis and lived in Speedway since 1948. I'm the only one on the fire department who's from Speedway. Before the war, we came out and watched. If you lived on the west side of Indianapolis, all these people, Billy Arnold and all the names, we came out and watched them. My first memory was 1928 or '29 and Billy Arnold, he was my hero, he won the race in 1930. I met George Souders. He won the race in 1927. I came out to qualifications and practice. It was something."

(About his love for Purdue): "But, I'm a Boilermaker fan number one. I went to Purdue extension, just couldn't afford to go. It was the height of the Depression. When I was about 10 years old, Washington High School was brand new then, and our first graduate went to Purdue. He was a great ballplayer - Jim Carter. He was one of the 'Touchdown Twins.' He still holds one record up there. They're putting a book out on him now. I guess my highlight was when Coach Keady came in and saw us (last year). He came in here and took pictures with us and then sent us a bunch of hats."

(About his love of baseball and the Dodgers): "Why was I a Dodger fan? I don't know. I was born and raised right here in Indianapolis. I finally went out to Brooklyn to see them play, and then they moved to L.A., and they've been in L.A. for 50 years. For some reason, Duke Snider was always my favorite player, number four. Every time I'd go gambling or horse races, I'd bet on No. 4. I kept a record. That sucker has cost me about $1,500 over the years. He's the only person I've ever asked for an autograph for myself. He was so nice. When he went up in '47, the same time Jackie Robinson did, they both went up for $5,000 a year, and they both made the Hall of Fame."

(About family): "I've got two grandchildren and a son and a daughter. In fact, my son-in-law worked 25 years out here. He worked the crash truck out of the fourth turn until three years ago when he thought he should spend some more time with his kids. They're girls, playing softball over here in Speedway. Believe it or not, they don't like it. They like sports, but for some reason they don't care for the track. And they live a mile from here. Isn't that something? But their father sure did. My daughter isn't interested, either."

(About other highlights at the track): "I got to be honorary starter last year. That was fun. I was scared to death, thought I would fall down between the (pit walls). That was awful nice of them."

***

Sarah Fisher Racing intends to focus on its primary entry for team owner/driver Sarah Fisher and not field a second entry, team manager/crew chief Andy O'Gara said this morning.

The team looked at a car owned by Sam Schmidt but has no plans to purchase it, O'Gara said. Jaques Lazier and Alex Barron inquired about the possibility of a ride with the team, O'Gara said.

ANDY O'GARA: "I'm 95 percent sure that we're solid. We're fine where we're at."

***

With qualifying winding down to Bump Day, speed and strategy are about to leave their mark on the tail end of the 33-car starting lineup. Larry "Big Daddy" Curry, director of competition for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, has seen qualifying from both the front and rear of the field during his career, and cars he has managed or wrenched have qualified in the last 10 minutes four times through the years.

Last year, Curry led Marty Roth's effort and positioned himself in line to bump back in when Roth was on the bubble, but at the head of the line and with time waning, he could've withdrawn Roth's qualified time and tooled around to run out the clock. But in an effort of sportsmanship, Roth pulled out and let Mario Dominguez try to bump his way in. Dominguez crashed, Roth was in, and the rest was history.

LARRY CURRY: "The first thing is, every time they have a draw, you draw for everything you have because you don't know what it's going to mean. This year will take a lot better shape today. It's very difficult to figure out what people can run because a lot of people are getting towed. Right now, four laps at 219 will put you in, but if it's 62 degrees and no wind Sunday, that may change. If you're sitting on the edge, you have to understand it takes five minutes to qualify a car. You have to be in line by 5:30 (Sunday). What if someone crashes and they have to take time to clean it up? Then there might be two or three bouncing around for position. Right now, there are five or six guys who can nail it down pretty quick. Then you get into the other six to determine who's going to fill the field. I would rather leave here today with a number on the board than wake up Sunday with 40 mile-an-hour winds. Sometimes you have to force the issue. When you play on the back end of the deal, you have to force the competition to show their hand. It really starts at about 4 o'clock Sunday, and you may run the car through tech and roll out and see who goes in with you. Some of these guys have only one car. At 4 o'clock, you start paying attention."

***

Azul Tequila has joined KV Racing Technology as a sponsor. Azul is Mexico's fastest-growing 100 percent agave tequila brand and is newly available in the United States.

KEVIN KALKHOVEN (Co-owner, KV Racing Technology): "We are very pleased to announce that Azul Tequila has joined KV Racing Technology for this year's Indianapolis 500. This is a company that has been making award-winning products for many years. That is a model that fits perfectly with KVRT's mission statement."

This is Armed Forces Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Members of United States military branches are at the track.

LIEUTENANT CHRISTOPHER YANE: (On why the Coast Guard is here this weekend): "We're a search and rescue crew out of Traverse City, Mich. We're here to support the Indianapolis 500 for Armed Forces Day. We brought our helicopter, an HH-65 'Charlie' Dolphin search and rescue, down to display, show the public and the supporters of the Indy 500 and to support Armed Forces Weekend."

FIRST LIEUTENANT SAMUEL WELL: (On why the National Guard is attending this weekend): "We're here for Armed Forces Day. We set up a booth to show our abilities and what we do. Just to better explain to the community what our role is here as the National Guard."

PETTY OFFICER GARY HARLAN: (On why the Navy is here this weekend): "We're here in support of the Armed Forces Day weekend that they have here at the time trials and the track every year. We just show up here and show the presence of the Navy. Set up a booth over there with the rest of the Armed Forces and come out here and have a good time."

***

Indianapolis 500 veteran Sarah Fisher will be a guest on the "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at 11 p.m. (ET) Monday, May 18 on Comedy Central.

It will be Fisher's first appearance on the popular show, which has won Emmy and Peabody awards. "The Daily Show" is a reality-based look at news, trends, pop culture, current events, politics, sports and entertainment, with an alternative point of view.

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

* Rookie Robert Doornbos qualified 23rd, the highest position available, and won the $5,000 Grady Construction Fastest Third Day Qualifier Award.

* Townsend Bell qualified 24th for his third Indianapolis 500.

* Oriol Servia qualified 25th for the second consecutive season. He finished 11th as a rookie last year.

* Rookie Alex Tagliani qualified 26th.

* Tomas Scheckter qualified 27th for his eighth Indianapolis 500. In his previous seven races, he had never started worse than 12th (2003).

* Rookie Mike Conway qualified 28th.

* John Andretti qualified 31st for his 10th Indianapolis 500. He has never started worse than 27th.

* Rookie Nelson Philippe qualified 33rd and will be the first driver on the bubble on Bump Day.

***

Alex Castrounis, engineer for E.J. Viso's HVM Racing crew, returned to the University of New Mexico this week to graduate with a master's degree in mathematics. Castrounis flew to New Mexico on Monday and stayed through Wednesday, when there was no track activity, to defend his thesis and graduate with distinction. His thesis involved race car optimization, computer simulation and statistical methods.

Castrounis has worked with HVM for eight years.

ALEX CASTROUNIS: "For my thesis, I was definitely pulling on experience in racing."

*** The 500 Festival announced Sunday that Annie Berning of Indianapolis was selected as the 2009 500 Festival Queen at the annual Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by ProLiance Energy, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Berning graduated earlier this month from Indiana University, where she majored in political science, Spanish and management. Berning, 21, is one of 33 young ladies selected for the 2009 500 Festival Princess Program, serving as ambassadors for the 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500. She is a 2005 graduate of Southport High School and is the daughter of William and Sharon Berning, and Rita Berning.

As 500 Festival Queen, Berning, is a recipient of a $2,500 educational scholarship from the 500 Festival and WTHR Channel 13. In addition, Berning will wear a jeweled crown provided by G. Thrapp Jewelers at 500 Festival events and the Indianapolis 500.

Princess Abby Dorsett of Terre Haute, Ind., a senior at Butler University majoring in public relations and advertising, and Princess Katie Rayl of Kokomo, Ind., a senior at Indiana University majoring in finance and management, were chosen as 2009 Princess Court members. Dorsett is the daughter of Brian and Gina Dorsett. Rayl is the daughter of Kyle and Lisa Rayl.

The 500 Festival Queen and Princesses attend 500 Festival events and volunteer throughout the Month of May. In addition, the 33 princesses are involved with statewide outreach programs of their choosing. Princesses are also present at various Indianapolis Motor Speedway functions and participate in the Indianapolis 500 Victory Circle celebration.

***

Sarah Fisher Racing team manager/chief mechanic Andy O'Gara and team owner/driver Sarah Fisher are unique at the Speedway. They also are husband and wife. Sarah also serves as team accountant and Andy is shop manager at team headquarters, just a few miles southwest of the Speedway. Fisher qualified on May 10 and is 21st in the provisional Race Day lineup. She drives the No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing entry.

Q. Who's the boss?

SARAH FISHER: "Neither one of us are really the boss. We both want to see the big picture, and we know what it's going to take to get there. There's really no bossing anybody around. We all work as one unit. We have a whole lot of responsibility on all our shoulders, so organizationally we don't look at it that way."

ANDY O'GARA: "Everybody's duties go far beyond that (titles). Johnny O'Gara (Andy's father) oversees the operation and helps us with the major decisions. He is a phone call away. My responsibilities have picked up a bunch. My day-to-day duties haven't changed a whole lot - it's just as stressful as it always will be."

Q. Are your management philosophies the same?

ANDY O'GARA: "Our outlook, goals, plans and the future haven't changed. The biggest thing Sarah and I said from the get-go was that we want to put 100 percent effort, as nice as we can do it. We don't have to run every race. Realistically, we are comfortable running the Indianapolis 500 only. Feasibly, we have to run every superspeedway to be competitive here and to keep building our program. We don't want to do it under-budget and put a product on the racetrack that isn't something we are proud of. We've got the right group of people to go out and the right bits to go out there and run on top. Our philosophies are the same."

Q. At home, do you leave racing behind?

SARAH FISHER: "There isn't much time outside the racetrack, at least this month. We get home around 10 or 11 (p.m.), and we're totally wiped out (because) we're giving everything to this team that we can. When we're at home, we're planning for the next day. We learned some things that day, and we start a to-do list of the things we want to accomplish the next day. We really enjoy what we do. We like knowing that this is our team. We don't have a dividing line at home."

ANDY O'GARA: "Racing is always 24/7. It's very rare that we go through the day without mentioning something that would make the team better. We're as hard on each other as anybody around here. That's because we see the best in each other. If you see an area where I can improve or where we're slumping; I would expect anybody, including my wife, to give me a kick in the pants. I think everybody on this team feels the same when it comes to them. We're a team, and we have 10 of the closest people around us who are like family. We talk about it 24/7. If we didn't talk about it, that's when things would be abnormal."

Q. What are your expectations on Race Day

SARAH FISHER: "It's going to be a lot different for me this year. Last year I was under a whole, whole lot of stress. In order to make Kentucky (Speedway), I had to bring the car home last year after Race Day, and we weren't able to do that. I'm a lot more relaxed in the race car this year. You can hear it in my voice. I think that will attribute to a lot better finish. When we come home top 10, it will be a win for us."

ANDY O'GARA: "I'm positive. I've worked for Sarah for six years, and I know what she likes in a race car. I hear the confidence in her voice. We have a great race car. We're starting a little far back, but we can work our way into the top 10. Then we can be up there fighting a little bit at the end. I see nothing right now that we won't be or can't be there."

***

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser visited the track today.

BOBBY UNSER: "It's good to be back here; it always is. I had 19 continual years of running here and never missed the show. Of course, this is like a home to me, honest to goodness. I live in Albuquerque, but Indianapolis is where I made my life most of the time. It's really touching and always good to come back here."

(What stands out most in your mind in all the years you raced here?): "I think probably my rookie year. You know, my brother Jerry was here first and, of course, he lost his life here. Those were just bad memories. When it really started for me was in '63 when I came here for my first time. That was just so exciting. It's so big; it's bigger than human beings, and it just really rattles your brain an awful lot until you get use to it for a year or two."

(On his feelings walking into the Speedway this year): "Oh, it's really nice. So many people know me. Race fans are different types of people. They're good people, and I just love them to death."

***

A total of 48 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-five drivers have been on the track to date and turned 743 laps today and 10,343 laps this month. Helio Castroneves turned 55 laps, the most laps today, while Raphael Matos has turned 559 laps this month, most of any driver. There were three cautions today for a total of 24 minutes. Rain delayed the start of qualifying by 3 hours, 31 minutes.

***

SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7 a.m. Garages open
10:15-11:15 a.m. IndyCar Series practice
Noon-6 p.m. Bump Day Qualifying

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 24 with the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast May 22 by VERSUS as part of its Carb Day coverage from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (EDT).

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , John Andretti , Tomas Scheckter , Sarah Fisher , Buddy Lazier , Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Oriol Servia , Alex Barron , Townsend Bell , Mario Dominguez , Sam Schmidt , Bobby Unser , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Robert Doornbos , Stanton Barrett , Marty Roth , Nelson Philippe , Tony George , Mike Conway , Alex Castro , Jaques Lazier , Nelson Phillipe
Teams KV Racing Technology , HVM Racing , Conquest Racing