IRL: Indy500: So close, just not close enough for Hattori

Hattori Bumped Out of the Indianapolis 500 Field Indianapolis, IN - Late this afternoon, Shigeaki Hattori and the ...

Hattori Bumped Out of the Indianapolis 500 Field

Indianapolis, IN - Late this afternoon, Shigeaki Hattori and the #55 EPSON were bumped out of this year's Indianapolis 500 field after Cory Witheral beat Hattori's first qualifying average speed of 221.1. Shortly after, Hattori ran the backup #55 EPSON and came very close to re-entering himself in the field, but was not close enough. Hattori was just a mere .06 seconds off from bumping Billy Boat off the bubble and capturing a position in the 33-car field.

"Well, what a first month for me at IMS and for it to end this way is very disappointing," said Hattori. "We were very close, just not quite close enough. We were less than a tenth away from knocking Billy Boat off the bubble, but the #55 EPSON was not handling as well as it had earlier today and that slowed me down. I was expecting a 222mph+ average, but it just wasn't in my cards today. My EPSON crew did an excellent job and now we'll begin focusing on round 5 of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series at Texas next month."

"I am very pleased with the effort and hard work Hattori has displayed all month long," said team president and track engineer Thomas Knapp. "This is not an easy place for any driver, rookie or veteran, to run. And just to have qualified in the first weekend is a big feat. And unlike most of our competitors, we were not able to test at length at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier in the spring. Hattori has a number of great talents when it comes to racing Indy cars and I'm certain he'll be in the lineup come 2002."

This year's field was extremely competitive, with just 3.2 seconds separating the fastest four-lap average from the slowest. And some of the greatest drivers in Indianapolis history failed to make the race in their first attempt, such as four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears.

Hattori and the EPSON crew will now begin preparations for round 5 of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series at Texas Motor Speedway in June. Hattori is currently 10th in the Northern Light Cup point standings.

Primary sponsorship for Vertex/Cunningham Racing's #55 EPSON comes from EPSON America, Inc. Epson is a world leader in digital imaging technology and offers a complete line of printers, scanners, digital cameras and multi-media projectors. The company is also a leading supplier of point-of-scale (POS) systems and peripherials for the retail market. EPSON America is the U.S. affiliate of Japanese-based Seiko-Epson Corporation.

-VCR-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Shigeaki Hattori , Billy Boat , Rick Mears