IRL: Indy 500: Bump Day report

HEARN, GIEBLER COMPLETE FIELD FOR 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 20, 2007 -- Veteran driver Richie Hearn and rookie Phil Giebler earned the final two starting spots for the 91st Indianapolis 500 as Bump Day played out at the ...

HEARN, GIEBLER COMPLETE FIELD FOR 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 20, 2007 -- Veteran driver Richie Hearn and rookie Phil Giebler earned the final two starting spots for the 91st Indianapolis 500 as Bump Day played out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hearn, who practiced in his No. 91 Hemelgarn/Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the first time on Bump Day, had a four-lap average of 219.860 mph to complete the 33-car field. That set the stage for Giebler, who returned to the track one-day after crashing on his initial qualifying effort.

Giebler's average speed (219.637) gave him the fastest rookie honor and bumped Jimmy Kite. It also put Roberto Moreno on the bubble, which didn't set well with team owner Tom Chastain, who withdrew the qualified time of the No. 77 Honda-powered Panoz from May 19 (216.229 mph) in an attempt to solidify its position.

Moreno, in his second day in the car after replacing the injured Stephan Gregoire, posted a qualifying average of 220.299 -- more than four miles an hour faster than his original time.

A lack of speed was a stark reality for team owners Paul Diatlovich and Kent Baker late on Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Their cars -- the No. 18 PDM Racing machine driven by Jimmy Kite and the No. 40 Direct Diversified Team Leader Special driven by PJ Jones -- didn't have the speed to burst Marty Roth's (218.922 mph) bubble during a late-afternoon chess match that would complete the lineup.

The 33 qualified cars for the Indianapolis 500 return to the track May 25 for the traditional Carb Day practice in advance of the May 27 race.

POST-QUALIFYING NOTES:

Ryan Briscoe, who will start seventh in the 91st Indianapolis 500 for Luczo Dragon Racing, teamed with Sascha Maassen to win the American Le Mans Series' Utah Grand Prix May 19 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

The ALMS team's head engineer, Nigel Beresford, also is leading Luczo Dragon's engineering effort at Indianapolis, so Beresford joined Briscoe on a red-eye flight Saturday night from Salt Lake City to Indianapolis.

***

Staff Sgt. Patrick Shannon, a member of the 76th Infantry Brigade of the Indiana National Guard based in Indianapolis, was the honorary starter of this morning's practice.

Shannon was awarded the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart for his service in Iraq in 2006 while training the Iraqi army in military police operations. Shannon received multiple small-arms wounds from insurgents.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford drove Shannon around the IMS oval in a Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car.

PATRICK SHANNON: "This was unbelievable. After coming back from Walter Reed Hospital, the whole atmosphere out here from the track, it's awesome. Going more than 100 mph out there with Mr. Rutherford, it was a great time. I appreciate it."

(What does Armed Forces Day, the Speedway's tradition of honoring America's military, mean to you?): "Means a lot to me. Any type of organization or any one person that really takes time to appreciate the military, it's a great feeling. I think the military has been around to protect everyone's freedom and most Americans kind of take that for granted, so it's nice when you're appreciated the way the track has done that for us."

***

Playa Del Racing has completed repairs on the No. 31 Ethos Fuel Reformulator Panoz/Honda/Firestone in which rookie Phil Giebler crashed during Third Day Qualifying on Saturday.

PHIL GIEBLER: "I can't say enough about this team and what we're accomplishing out here with the limited track time we're getting. It's really amazing what we're able to do with me being a rookie and the team just getting the car up and running. We only had maybe a half a day of real running in this whole two weeks. It's been a real frustrating couple of days, but we're showing great pace."

(About the cause of yesterday's accident): "The team didn't give me a bad car or anything. I just got caught out with some wind and maybe some dirt on the track. I exited pretty wide there in (Turn) 1, and there's been a lot of cars out on the track yesterday, just a lot of dirt outside of the line. I think maybe if I was a little wide exiting 1, I maybe got a little bit of dirt on the tires or got blown wide on Turn 2. It was an unfortunate thing, but everybody's working really hard. The Playa Del Racing mechanics are just doing whatever they can. We're hoping to get everything out here really soon and just put it in the show and show what we can do in the race."

(What's the accident do for your confidence, especially with being a rookie?): "I definitely want to get back out there soon, but as a racing driver, you expect those things every now and then. You can't go out there and say I'm never going to crash. They say this place bites you, and I found out first-hand that it does. I know what to look for now. I looked at data. I looked at video. Hopefully, I'm smarter for the race."

MARK WEIDA (Engineer, No. 31 car, Playa Del Racing):

(About Giebler's accident): "There were 1,900 laps run yesterday with full tanks. Anything off-line was instantly into the marbles. Basically, Phil got in a little late on the turn-in in Turn 2 and got in the marbles, and it just pushed right into the fence."

(What's the progress with the car right now and what damage did have to repair?): "As far as the damage, we were very lucky. It was surprisingly light. We didn't break the gearbox. We did break the engine (and three corners of suspension). It was hard enough that it cracked the engine. The majority of the body work was in good shape, which is what takes a long time to fit as far as doing repairs. The bolt-on stuff is pretty quick. We're actually probably 15 minutes from getting it done, getting it on the pad and starting to do the alignment process on it. Again we were very lucky."

(Was it an all-nighter for the crew?): "No, actually it wasn't. We crashed after 5 (p.m.), we got the car around 6, and the guys got everything stripped down. We got the engine in it, and they fired it up last night around midnight, so we got out of here at midnight and were back here at 7 (a.m.)."

(Did you have to seek assistance from other teams?): "Absolutely. We had a pretty good supply of spares in our shop, but also we had help from the IRL, we had help from Chastain; anybody that had the Panoz. Chip Ganassi's team, we got a lot of Panoz parts. We were scrambling from everybody, and everybody was more than willing to help us out."

***

Ellwood "Reds" Stofflet, John Andretti's grandfather, died early Saturday morning, May 19. He was 88. Stofflet is survived by three daughters, including Carolyn "Corky" Andretti, John Andretti's mother.

A memorial service will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Salem United Church of Christ, 2218 Community Drive, Bath, PA 18014.

***

When people think of racetrack food, it's hard not to think of a big bucket of fried chicken, a grill full of hot dogs and a cooler full of drinks. A stroll through the infield will find all of those. But on the third floor of the IMS Media Center, a wide variety of food is served to the media who spend hours and hours working throughout the month of May.

Derek Black is the Media Center chef, and he works closely with IMS Manager of Catering and Beverage Operations Jeff Greenspan preparing the menus.

RANDY CLARK (Director of Food and Beverage, IMS): "We've really made an effort to expand the Media Center deli menu the last few years to give the journalists a variety of choices. Many of them work out here every day for three full weeks. We still offer the occasional hot dog and hamburger menu, but we've also added items like mango salmon, beef brisket, pork loin and sushi throughout the month."

***

POST-BUMP DAY QUICK QUOTES:

MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's great that it's one minute after six. I've been waiting a long time for that. It's been a long day. Unfortunately, we had a lousy qualifying, and that's the price you pay. You end up taking your turn on the bubble, and it's a very uncomfortable situation. We had a really good car. We were 221's all day long. We're just debating if we were going to stick it in and re-qualify it, or 'No, no. Don't worry about it.' It was quite the drama in our pits today. We're just glad it's over, and we're glad to be in the show."

JIMMY KITE (No. 18 PDM Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "We had the car trimmed out as much as we could trim it out. We figured we had plenty left in it yesterday. We would trim it out, and we would gain speed. That was about as free as that car is going to be. It didn't seem to like going down the straightaway. I hate it for everybody. Jim and Z-Line Design came on thinking we'd be here next Sunday. We expected to be there, too. It sucks having to watch the race on TV."

PAUL DIATLOVICH (Owner, PDM Racing): "I just probably wasted the talent of one of the finest drivers to come here. Our car wasn't up to speed."

(About the investment he made to make the race): "We'll find out when the dust settles. It's long. It's tough. It's expensive. We didn't make it. We'll have a garage sale."

(About the difficulty of qualifying): "This place isn't easy. It's not supposed to be easy. This place starts the 33 fastest, best-prepared cars. Obviously, I missed. I have to give credit to the crew. They persevered. They worked for this. We crashed, and we came back. They never missed a beat. The car was mechanically excellent. We didn't have the right setup. That's my error. My fault. It was a waste of the talent of Jimmy Kite."

***

Quotes from driver PJ Jones and team owner Kent Baker about the decision not to make a qualification attempt in the No. 40 Direct Diversified Team Leader Special Panoz/Honda/Firestone on Bump Day:

PJ JONES: "Ah, it's very difficult. You know, you struggle, obviously, trying to make that decision. For us, when I just went through Turn 2 and almost knocked the fence down, you know, you've got to think. You don't want to destroy a car and possibly hurt yourself. It wasn't like we were running 218s and nipping at the 219 barrier where I would have hung it out a lot more. It was more, 'We're sittin', we're struggling.' Most guys right now, with the wing configuration, they should be able to run 220. And we haven't seen that. I've been flat out. I've been in all different configurations, and we found a lot of problems this week we had. We've been limited on motor mileage today, and that's hurt us, big time. It just wasn't in the cards. It's hard to swallow, but it's better than wrecking a car."

(The level of disappointment -- is there a way to put it into words?): "No, not really. It's just very disappointing, but if the car's not right, you don't want to go run 200 miles on it, either. We've struggled. We've had a lot of issues that I probably haven't seen in eight years of Indy car racing. You got new guys that are all great, capable people. It's just that we hadn't worked together. We started, really, last Tuesday or so and tried to put this all together."

KENT BAKER: "The decision, Honda did give us a couple of extra laps. They told me after the first run we went out and ran a tough 214. They said, 'We'll give you three more laps to figure it out.' I'm not going to send PJ out on a banzai run. You know, you can't carry the car here 5, 6 mile per hour. It's just not happening. It's not going to happen. It's not practical. You know, everybody wanted to run. And PJ, he just didn't have confidence in the car, and I made the call. At some point, it's a decision somebody's got to make, and I made it."

BUMP DAY QUALIFYING-91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD NOTES

* There are six former Indianapolis 500 winners in the starting field: Al Unser Jr. (1992 and 1994), Buddy Lazier (1996), Helio Castroneves (2001-02), Buddy Rice (2004), Dan Wheldon (2005) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2006). Between them, they have eight victories. The record for former winners in the field is 10, in 1992. The fewest, other than the inaugural race in 1911, is zero in 1912.

* There are two rookies in the field, the fewest since 1979, when Howdy Holmes was the only rookie in the field. This year's rookies: Phil Giebler and Milka Duno.

* Al Unser Jr. is the most experienced driver in the field, with 18 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35, set in consecutive years from 1958-92 by A.J. Foyt.

* Michael Andretti has led 430 career laps in the Indianapolis 500, more than any other driver in this year's field.

* There are a combined 160 previous Indianapolis 500 starts among the 33 drivers in this year's field. The record is 260 years of experience, set in 1987 and 1992. There were 138 years of combined experience in last year's field.

* The oldest qualifier is Marty Roth, 48. The youngest qualifier is Marco Andretti, 20.

* There are 30 Dallara chassis and 3 Panoz chassis in the field

* There are seven graduates of the Indy Pro Series in the field, the most graduates in the field ever. The seven graduates are: Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, A.J. Foyt IV, Phil Giebler, Jon Herb, Marty Roth, Jeff Simmons.

* This is the seventh-closest matched field by time Indianapolis 500 history as 5.0207 seconds separate fastest qualifier Helio Castroneves and slowest qualifier Marty Roth. The record is 3.2422 seconds in 2001.

* Thirteen drivers who were not in the 90th Indianapolis 500 qualified for the 91st Indianapolis 500.

***

The next on-track activity is Thursday, when preparations for the Freedom 100 begin. The next track activity day is Wednesday, which is American Family Insurance 500 Festival Community Day.

***

The 2007 IndyCar Series season continues with the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500 at 1 p.m. (ET) on May 27. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Freedom 100 on May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast as part of ESPN2's coverage of Carb Day at 4 p.m. on May 25.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , John Andretti , Jeff Green , Al Unser Jr. , Jon Herb , Buddy Lazier , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , A.J. Foyt IV , Jimmy Kite , Roberto Moreno , Richie Hearn , Sascha Maassen , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Marty Roth , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , Phil Giebler , A.J. Foyt , Ed Carpenter , Johnny Rutherford , Sam Hornis
Teams Dragon Racing