BUSY BUCKNUM HAS AMBITIOUS MAY SCHEDULE: MID-OHIO AND INDY 500 Braselton, Ga. - As Jeff Bucknum looked over his schedule for May, he didn't find many openings. He's that busy. First is the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, where Bucknum will pilot...
BUSY BUCKNUM HAS AMBITIOUS MAY SCHEDULE: MID-OHIO AND INDY 500
Braselton, Ga. - As Jeff Bucknum looked over his schedule for May, he didn't find many openings. He's that busy.
First is the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, where Bucknum will pilot the No. 10 Miracle Motorsports Courage C65 in Round 3 of the American Le Mans Series on May 20-22. He and the rest of the Miracle team lead the ALMS' LMP2 standings after the first two races, despite a DNF at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta in April. Bucknum lists winning the class title as one of his "2005 Extreme Goals."
Then there is the May 29th Indianapolis 500, another Extreme Goal. Bucknum will race a Honda-powered Dallara for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, following in the footsteps of his late father. Ronnie Bucknum drove in the Indy 500 from 1968-70 and in 1964 became Honda's first Formula 1 driver.
"I can't say I'd concentrate on one more than the other," Bucknum said. "I have a lot more to learn in the IRL car. I've raced at Mid-Ohio, and it's one of the most familiar tracks for me. I don't really have to learn anything new about Mid-Ohio. For me to go into a sports car race, I can do it in less time and still perform at a higher level. With Indy, I can't miss any outings or opportunities. Every moment on the track is going to be educational."
Bucknum's Indy experience actually starts May 8 with rookie orientation at the track, followed by practice and the first two rounds of qualifying later in the week. There's more practice the next week, which leads right into Mid-Ohio. Bucknum doesn't think he'll miss any time at the ALMS' third race of the year, providing he posts a fast enough qualifying speed at Indy where he doesn't have to worry about qualifying that weekend.
"There's a cut-off speed, and we have to make sure we get that," he said. "I don't think it will be a problem. Worst-case scenario, I would be able to stay in Indy and qualify Saturday then hop in a plane and do raceday on Sunday. But it would be nice to get some practice time at Mid-Ohio."
Unfortunately, it appears one of Bucknum's Extreme Goals may go unrealized this year: Hopes of competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Miracle Motorsports will send John Macaluso, Andy Lally and Ian James to France in June.
"It was never in my contract to be at Le Mans for Miracle," he said. "There was a possible option, but it was wide-open. But I'm not really pursuing it. I was going to do it with Miracle or not at all because I know the team so well. If someone called and a last-minute deal came together, I would assess it and make a decision.
"There is a little weight lifted off because I can spend time with my wife and three kids," he added. "I would sacrifice that time if it was with Miracle to win the LMP2 class at Le Mans."
Bucknum's other Extreme Goal is to surf a 30-foot wave, although he has indicated that may have to wait until later this year. But the desire definitely remains there for the avid surfer.
"There is a certain window of time of big waves in the Pacific," he said. "It'll probably end up happening right after the season is over. Laguna Seca (in mid-October) is a little early for them to come in. But it could happen."
The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio is set for noon EDT May 22 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. CBS Sports will broadcast the event from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT, and live coverage will be available on American Le Mans Series Radio at www.americanlemans.com.