Buddy Lazier Leads Chevy Qualifiers on Indy 500 Bump Day INDIANAPOLIS, May 23, 2004 - Led by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, three more Chevrolet-powered drivers qualified for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on the third and...
Buddy Lazier Leads Chevy Qualifiers on Indy 500 Bump Day
INDIANAPOLIS, May 23, 2004 - Led by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, three more Chevrolet-powered drivers qualified for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on the third and final day of qualifications. With thunderstorms bearing down on Indianapolis Motor Speedway there was a sense of urgency among the teams that had not previously secured a place on the starting grid. When qualifying concluded and the final seven spots were filled, there were 10 Chevrolet-powered drivers in the 33-car lineup, equaling the number of Chevy Indy V-8s in last year's 500-mile race.
Lazier was the fastest of the three third-day Chevy qualifiers, completing his four-lap, 10-mile run with an average speed of 215.110 mph and placing his LifeFitness DRR/Hemelgarn Racing Chevrolet Dallara in the 28th spot on the grid. P.J. Jones, the son of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, qualified the Curb/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports Chevrolet Dallara 31st at 213.355 mph. Robby McGehee claimed the 33rd starting position with a 211.632 mph average speed in PDM Racing's Chevrolet Dallara.
"I've never come here and qualified with a race setup, but that's what we just did," said Lazier, the 2000 IRL champion. "We had tons and tons of downforce, more than what I normally would use in qualifying, because that's what we needed right now.
"I was very satisfied with the run, knowing the kind of downforce we had," he added. "This isn't Pole Day, it's about getting in the car and getting going. My Chevy motor ran great, and we're really dialed in for race day. The racer in me wanted to take downforce out of this race car so I could go out and run some big numbers. The team made it clear that I'm not supposed to be chasing speed, but chasing race car setups. It's amazing that in two days we're as far along as we are."
P.J. Jones carried the No. 98 on his Chevrolet Dallara, the same number that his famous father took to Victory Lane in 1963 with car owner J.C. Agajanian.
"It's cool to come back in those colors with Cary Agajanian and Mike Curb," said Jones. "Greg Beck gave me an awesome car. We only ran a handful of laps yesterday and today, and I had to knock the rust off. I haven't been in one of these cars for a couple of years; everything's changed, and they drive differently.
"We just wanted to get in the race with no heroics," said the second-generation racer. "That was pretty much a race setup. I was real comfortable in qualifying. It was the best four laps I drove - I was wide open and it felt great!"
Robby McGehee qualified for his fifth Indianapolis 500 just minutes before the first of several rain delays began. With only a few shakedown laps, McGehee put PDM Racing's Chevrolet Dallara in the show at 211.631 mph.
"I wasn't planning on lifting, but I had to lift twice in Turn 3 on the last couple of laps because the car got such a big push," McGehee reported. "My goal is not to lift in qualifying, but you do need to lift if you're going towards the wall. That's when I lifted.
"The PDM crew did a great job to get this car prepared at the last minute," he added. "Unfortunately we didn't have the track time to get a good qualifying car, as you can see by my lap times. We had to decide between testing the car to make it faster or getting a time in before it rained. We chose the safe route."
The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at noon Eastern time (11 a.m. local time) on Sunday, May 30. The 200-lap, 500-mile race will be televised live on ABC.