"It's all about time," said Marty Roth when it was over. The amicable Canadian's emotions no doubt swirled as briskly as the wind around Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the final day of qualifying for the Memorial Day race, a day that added force...
"It's all about time," said Marty Roth when it was over.
The amicable Canadian's emotions no doubt swirled as briskly as the wind around Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the final day of qualifying for the Memorial Day race, a day that added force to the argument that this month of May has been more about surviving a war of attrition than artful finesse and pure speed.
At Saturday's track close the forty-nine year old IndyCar driver/owner casually tossed aside the pressure of being slowest after three days of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 with a glib, "Everybody gets bummed out about being on the bubble, but I'm used to it."
On Sunday evening, when he found himself the last man standing, Roth admitted this one was the worst one he's ever faced: the trip to the bubble he's made three of the last four years. The Canadian's 218.965 mph four-lap average speed was just fast enough to win him the last spot in the eleven rows of three that will start the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day.
Roth's 215.506 qualifying time of Saturday was never even close to withstanding the 'Bump Day' challenges that were sure to come. Even Roth suspected as much, taking to the Speedway's 2.5 mile oval early on Sunday afternoon to record a more substantial mark of 218.965 mph.
Roger Yasukawa, Buddy Lazier and Mario Dominguez then spent the better part of the next six-hours threatening to leave Roth on the outside looking in at the 33-car field. Yasukawa was first, posting a speedy 219.449 mph practice lap that was bracketed by two others in the 219 range -- the magic number to enter the field this year.
Dominguez did the same, inching higher and higher on the timing and scoring pylon with a 219.093 mph best. He looked so good doing it his team put him on the track for a qualifying attempt at 5:34 PM EDT, and he bumped Lazier (who was then on the bubble) out of the race with a four lap average of 218.620 mph.
Yasukawa made a four-lap try on the Mexican driver's successful qualifying attempt and fell just short, at one point pulling dead even in elapsed time before falling back on the final qualifying lap. Then it was Lazier, who flew to a 219.015 mph average that was the surprise of the day and put Roth back on the bubble at ten minutes of six (the close of Sunday's on-track activities).
With it all on the line Yasukawa went back out, this his third and final try, to post a 218.476 mph mark--half a mile per hour slower than Roth's.
Dominguez drag-raced out of tech and onto the track as the final gun went off, running to a stunning 219.780 mph lap on his first time around--clearly enough to put him into the race if he could just hold on. Then, BAM! it was over, as Dominguez lost control in the same Turn 1 that has been the bugaboo for nearly a third of the field this year--the car was destroyed and Roth was in the 2008 Indy 500 for good.