IRL: Indy 500: Honda Bump Day report

Vasser Second Quickest on Final Qualifying Day Honda-powered Jimmy Vasser recorded the third-fastest speed of nine qualifiers Sunday as the 33-car starting field for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500-mile race was filled. Driving for ...

Vasser Second Quickest on Final Qualifying Day

Honda-powered Jimmy Vasser recorded the third-fastest speed of nine qualifiers Sunday as the 33-car starting field for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500-mile race was filled. Driving for Rahal-Letterman Racing, the former CART champion posted a four-lap average speed of 226.873 mph, despite missing the first week of practice and qualifying due to his CART racing commitments in England and Germany.

The 37-year-old Californian will make his eighth Indy 500 start from the outside of the ninth row, alongside top final-day qualifier Alex Barron and Brazilian Vitor Meira. In accordance with the unique rules of the '500', all of this weekend's qualifiers will start behind the 24 cars that posted qualifying times on "Pole Day", May 11.

The 2003 Indianapolis 500 lineup will be made up of nine Honda-powered entries, 10 Chevrolets and 14 Toyotas. Tony Kanaan and Robby Gordon placed their Honda-powered Andretti Green Racing machines on the front row in cold and blustery "Pole Day" qualifying action last weekend, and will lead the Honda contingent to the green flag on Sunday, May 25.

In addition to Kanaan and Gordon, rookie Dan Wheldon and former "500" race winner Kenny Brack will start in the second row, for a total of four Hondas in the top six grid positions. Another Honda-powered rookie, Roger Yasukawa, put his Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda solidly in the middle of the fourth row, 11th in the field.

The fifth row of the starting grid will be all Honda powered, with Michael Andretti making his final start as a driver, followed by owner/driver Greg Ray and Shinji Nakano, driving in his second IndyCar race for Beck Motorsports.

Jimmy Vasser (#19 Argent Mortgage/Rahal-Letterman Racing Honda) Third fastest qualifier today, will start 27th: "We'll be starting from the back, but I've done that before, and I think the Argent car is as good as any in the field in race trim. That's what I need to get to the front and I think that sooner or later on race day you'll see us up there. The Honda power, I think, is superior to the other stuff I've seen on the track in race trim. For now, we're happy to be in the field and now our focus is race day."

Robert Clarke (Vice President and General Manager, Honda Performance Development): "We're quite pleased with our qualifying results, both this weekend and last. We have a total of nine cars in field, with two on the front row and four in the top six, so I believe we are in an excellent position for the race next Sunday. Both the Honda engine and our teams have shown they are competitive here. We've spent much of the past week working on race setups: how the cars react as the fuel load decreases and tires wear - and now,h both our engineers and our teams will begin preparing race strategies. It should be an exciting race and we're looking forward to it."

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Jimmy Vasser , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Robert Clark , Vitor Meira