By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN (May 13, 2001) - Five more drivers were added to the field for the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Bruno Junqueira setting the fastest qualifying ...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Indianapolis, IN (May 13, 2001) - Five more drivers were added to the field for the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500 with Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Bruno Junqueira setting the fastest qualifying speed of the day. Junqueira averaged 224.208 in his qualifying run, earning the 25th position on the starting grid.
"I knew I had to do laps of 222 (mph) to be safe, and when I saw three laps of 224 I slowed down on the fourth (lap) to be safe," said Junqueira.
"I look forward to the race now. All the drivers in the world dream of racing here. It was a big surprise yesterday afternoon when Chip called me to race."
Andretti was the second fastest qualifier today after withdrawing the No. 39 Motorola Archipeligo Dallara, which he qualified yesterday at a speed of 220.747 mph.
"Going into the qualifying run, I had no clue, I didn't know what I was going to run. I was hoping to run at least 221 (mph), after the first run I saw 233 on the dash and I thought, all right, good, just don't make a mistake and I'll be all right."
After struggling for most of the week, Andretti used a setup from his teammate, Sam Hornish, for his qualifying run. "I wish I would have had that sort of car for a couple of days because I think I could have built up a little more confidence to go a little quicker in turn one. There's probably 224 in the car if I just would work with it a little more."
Andretti, who will race in the CART series at the Motegi oval track, delayed his departure to Japan while waiting for conditions at the Speedway to improve. Expecting to be on an airplane by 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, Andretti started his qualifying run at 5:42 p.m.
Nicolas Minassian, teammate to Bruno Junqueira on Ganassi's CART team, was the third fastest qualifier with a four-lap average of 223.006 mph, putting four Target cars in the field for the race.
Jeret Schroeder was the fourth fastest of the day's eight qualifiers, posting a qualifying speed of 222.786 mph. Schroeder's car was demolished in the 11-car accident at Atlanta, forcing the team to build a new car for the Speedway. An accident with the brand new car on Thursday, meant the PDM crew had to build yet another new Dallara.
"It's a major relief," said Schroeder after putting his Purity Products Dallara safely into the field. "Conditions today were the best I've seen all week. No wind, temperatures optimal. The car had good balance so I knew I could attack the corners at speed."
Buzz Calkins and Eddie Cheever both withdrew the backup cars they qualified yesterday, improving their qualifying speeds with their primary cars. Calkins and Cheever were fifth and sixth fastest qualifiers today, respectively.
"This is the meanest, nastiest racing circuit you will ever have to qualify on," said Cheever, "those four laps are very difficult."
Not wanting to fall into the category of past race winners failing to qualify, Cheever said, "I can not think of anything more humiliating than not qualifying for the Indy 500. I put every ounce of courage and common sense out the window. I had never taken turn one flat, and I went into the second lap and I got around it (turn one) flat with half a foot to spare."
"I had a battle with Bobby Rahal, where I bumped him out in the last four minutes. I know I did not want to go through that."
Cheever won the Indianapolis 500 in 1998.
Tyce Carlson posted the slowest speed of the day's eight qualifiers, but, with one position still open in the thirty-three-car field, Roberto Guerrero, with the slowest speed in the field, may become the first driver on the bubble.
"You had to take a time today," said Carlson. "You don't know if it's going to rain next weekend or it could be 85-90 degrees and the track might not be as fast. We're happy with where we are. We'll have our 60 T (backup) together if we need it next Sunday."
With one spot remaining in the field, nine drivers have yet to qualify.
Practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resumes on Wednesday, May 16. Ganassi Racing and Team Penske have left to race in the CART series at Motegi, Japan, while several IRL teams will travel to Richmond, VA to test before practice at the Speedway resumes.