Nine cars qualify on Bump Day to set full Indy field INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 18, 2003 -- Rookie Vitor Meira was the last of nine drivers who earned a spot in the 33-car field for the 87th Indianapolis 500 on Bump Day qualifying May 18, as the...
Nine cars qualify on Bump Day to set full Indy field
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 18, 2003 -- Rookie Vitor Meira was the last of nine drivers who earned a spot in the 33-car field for the 87th Indianapolis 500 on Bump Day qualifying May 18, as the field is set for what should be one of the most competitive editions of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
Meira qualified at 227.158 mph in the No. 2T Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, putting him in the 26th starting spot.
"It's really the biggest race, the biggest qualifying and the biggest, best days that I ever did in terms of emotions," Meira said. "It's really important to work that and try not to be nervous and try to work inside of you just being calm and just say 'Be calm, be calm, be calm.'"
Meira's speed was the second-fastest qualifying speed of the day. Alex Barron was fastest today at 227.274 in the No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, good for the 25th starting spot.
"We came out this morning and we put the car on the track, and we realized the track was a lot different than two days ago," Barron said. We haven't done anything qualifying-wise, setup-wise.
"We had to regroup, and do one more run, pull out of line to verify that the change was going to work. At that point, we decided we needed to put the Meijer car in the show, and we put it back with a good, solid, conservative setup and went out and put four consistent laps together. At that point, that's what you need to do."
Other drivers to qualify are 1998 Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole winner Billy Boat, 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee, 2000 IRL IndyCarTM Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Airton Dare, 1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser, Shigeaki Hattori, Jimmy Kite and Richie Hearn.
The 87th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25. The next track activity is Miller Lite Carb Day practice, noon-2 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, May 22. It's the final day of track activity before the race.
Dare ended the day "on the bubble" as the 33rd and slowest qualifier at 223.609 in the No. 5T EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt owns that car.
"There was a miscommunication with me and the team when I went out to qualify," Dare said. "We ran 225.3 (mph) this morning, and I thought we could pick up a mile an hour, and we slowed down three instead of picking up one.
"I wanted to wave off, but I didn't get an answer back from the team, so I kept it in the gas, and we completed the other laps. We are in the field, but it's really frustrating to be that slow."
The average field speed is 227.125 mph, the third fastest in the history of the event. All 11 rows in this year's field have at least one driver with an IndyCar Series victory.
Drivers in the 87th Indianapolis 500 have accounted for 154 IRL or CART wins, 12 IRL or CART championships and six Indianapolis 500 wins.
A limited number of reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Indianapolis 500 remain available. General admission and reserved tickets for practice, qualifications and Race Day can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.