Ten more cars qualified for the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday (May 19th) as Dreyer & Reinbold's Roger Yasukawa, Panther's John Andretti, Foyt Racing's Al Unser, Jr., Beck Motorsport's Alex Barron and Racing Professionals' Jon Herb made...
Ten more cars qualified for the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday (May 19th) as Dreyer & Reinbold's Roger Yasukawa, Panther's John Andretti, Foyt Racing's Al Unser, Jr., Beck Motorsport's Alex Barron and Racing Professionals' Jon Herb made qualifications attempts at greater than two hundred and twenty miles an hour to enter the field for the 91st running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Yasukawa's 222.654 mph four lap average was the best of the men and women who took official qualifying attempts on the third of four days of qualifying for the Memorial Day race. He acknowledged what was obvious to the fans: he was fast from the get-go in a legitimately swift car that was previously Sarah Fisher's backup machine.
"Everything is going great," said Yasukawa. "The car is really fast right out of the box. Dreyer & Reinbold did a great job of preparing the car."
"I was surprised, actually," he said of his speed. "I was expecting 222.1 or maybe 221's, but to do 222.6 average is great. Now we can concentrate on the race setup."
Yasukawa's time is currently good enough for him to start in the middle of the eighth of eleven rows of three-abreast cars come raceday.
Rookie Phil Giebler was the day's only casualty, losing control during his qualification attempt and skidding to a stop on the back straightaway when the Playa Del Racing Panoz pushed into the wall exiting turn two, delivering a solid blow to the right side of the car. The accident came at the beginning of his fourth and final lap of a run that was solidly in the field at 221.362 miles per hour.
Giebler was released in satisfactory condition from the Clarian infield hospital moments later.
"The speed was there, then WHAM! the thing just went straight for the wall," he said from the sidewalk of the white cinder-block facility at the south end of the Speedway.
Giebler predicted the team could get him back out running in time to beat the checkered flag Sunday evening. "We can get it fixed," in time, he said. "It's not that bad really, and I'm surprised at that. Everybody's bummed because we were definitely in the show, but we'll bounce back and put the car in the show."
Giebler's teammate Jaques Lazier pushed his Panoz/Honda into the Indy 500 field with his "Happy Hour" circuit around the track at 219.409 mph average over ten miles with a flying start.
Milka Duno led off the day with a solid qualification attempt that yielded a speed of 219.228 mph average over the ten-mile, four lap trip around the Speedway. A mob of official and unofficial photographers greeted her at the "Yard of Bricks" that marks the start/finish line afterwards to capture her success on film and secure digital card.
"I'm so happy," she said in the Chris Economacki Press Room later. "Remember when I was here after my rookie orientation? It (the track) is so-oooo fast!"
"I'm so pleased with my engineers. We lost last week because (of an accident), and they were fixing the car and did something amazing. They are super, super guys."
Jon Herb was waved off in his first shot at making the race during the early afternoon period, while turning laps in the 219-220 mile per hour range. The team cited a fuel pickup problem as the reason to abort the qualification attempt. Herb returned late in the day to put up a time of 220.108 mph and take his spot in the field.
Marty Roth also put in a time to enter the field of thirty-three for the 500-mile race, his 218.922 mph clocking sufficient for the thirtieth position on the grid.
Robert Moreno, replacing the injured Stephon Gregoire at the wheel of the Chastain Motorsports machine, tallied a speed of 216.229 on his qualification run; while Jimmy Kite of PDM, in another racecar hastily made good for this weekend's attempts by his team, put up a four-lap speed of 214.528 miles per hour to end the day.
No one used up all three of their permissable qualification attempts today.
If you like watching racecars moving at speed today was the day for you at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the quantity and quality of the on-track activity will be matched only one other day this year, on Memorial Day raceday May 27th, as thirty-two cars and drivers flew en masse around the old two and a half mile Brickyard.
Dan Wheldon of Chip Ganassi Racing was fastest overall on Saturday, in his backup car, turning a best lap of nearly 225 mph (224.895 mph). He was followed by Team Penske's Helio Castroneves (224.692 mph) and Andretti Green's Tony Kanaan (224.593 mph) as the trio became the only drivers to best the 224 mph mark.
Next were Scott Dixon, Michael Andretti, Sam Hornish, Jr., Vision Racing's Tomas Scheckter, and Dario Franchitti. Yasukawa was just ahead of Danica Patrick who turned in the tenth-fastest lap time today.
The sunny seventy-degree weather with light southwesterly winds brought one of those balmy Indiana early-summer days that winter-weary Hoosiers dream about, as the teams worked on race simulation primarily today and the already-qualified cars and drivers hooked up and drafted, teased and passed one another, and created a mock raceday atmosphere that the crowd ate up like so much homemade ice cream.
The final day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 will unfold tomorrow (Sunday, May 20th) at the oval, and with it should come more bumping, only this time for keeps.
The gates open at 8 AM, as the Speedway salutes our men and women in uniform with its annual Armed Forces Day. Members of the military in uniform, or in possession of a valid military ID, are admitted free of charge.
The action commences with practice at 10:15 for one hour, then qualifying resumes at high-Noon and continues until the last, ultimate pop of the starter's gun at 6 PM to mark the close of qualifications for the 2007 race.