Top-Five Finish for Chevy in Indy 500 Buddy Lazier Overcomes Adversity to Score Best Chevrolet Finish INDIANAPOLIS, May 29, 2005 - Buddy Lazier showed tenacity and grit today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, bringing his battered ...
Top-Five Finish for Chevy in Indy 500
Buddy Lazier Overcomes Adversity to Score Best Chevrolet Finish
INDIANAPOLIS, May 29, 2005 - Buddy Lazier showed tenacity and grit today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, bringing his battered Panther Racing/Jonathan Byrd's Chevrolet home in fifth place in the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500. The 1996 Indy winner survived contact with two cars in the closing laps, his race car's front wing in tatters as he pulled into the pits after 500 tough miles. Dan Wheldon won in an Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara, his fourth win in five races.
"I figured I'd save it until the end and make a run for it, but there were some cars blocking me," said Lazier. "We had a lot of contact and broke both of the front wings. It's amazing that we were able to run as well as we did at the finish.
"Chevy gave me a motor that could have won today," Lazier declared. "You can never say that you would have won, but we would have had a lot better shot if we didn't have damaged wings. I think we would have had a chance."
All three Chevy-powered Panther Racing entries ran consistently in the top 10 today, but only Lazier avoided the misfortune that took his teammates out of the race. Tomas Enge's Rockstar Chevy and Tomas Scheckter's Pennzoil Platinum Chevy were both collected in an accident on the 155th lap when racing resumed after a caution period.
"After the restart, Danica (Patrick) lost the rear end when I was beside her," Enge reported. "She ran into my car and took me out of the race. It's a shame because all of the guys at Panther Racing and Chevrolet were really fantastic. Unfortunately I couldn't fight for the Rookie of the Year, but I'll come back next year."
The dark cloud that has dogged Scheckter was evident even under the blue skies of Indianapolis.
"Danica lost it in front of me," said the South African. "My teammate got caught up in it, and I got caught up in it. She got it wrong on the restart, a little mistake but big consequences for everybody else. I just have to thank the crew. We had a great car."
Richie Hearn, driver of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports' Meijer/Coca-Cola Chevrolet, was also sidelined in an accident on lap 112 with Scott Dixon. He was examined and released with an abrasion on his right knee.
"There was a lot of jockeying going on in front of us," said Hearn. "I didn't see Scott; it was my fault. I feel bad for (owner) Sam Schmidt and the Meijer crew because they gave me a good car and we could have had a pretty good finish."
Lazier's top-five finish was remarkable because his race was badly damaged in an accident during the final Carb Day practice on Friday. The car was repaired, but went into the 500-mile race untested.
"I knew when I looked at this team that I'd have a chance to win this race," said Lazier. "It's a testament to Panther Racing, my engineers, and all of the guys on this team. They worked all night for two nights to put that car back together. They did a great job."
Indianapolis Chevrolet dealer Gary Pedigo, one of five co-owners of Panther Racing, called Lazier's race from the pits.
"Buddy just drove the wheels off his car, and it looked more like a NASCAR car than an Indy car at the finish," said Pedigo. "He just wouldn't give up, there's no quit in him. The Chevy Indy V-8 did a great job and the car was really good all day. Buddy just had an unfortunate incident when he was blocked and broke the front wings. You don't come here to run fifth, but it's better than most."
The Bombardier Learjet 500, the sixth round of the 17-race IndyCar Series, will be contested at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 11. The 200-lap, 300-mile race will be televised live on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. EDT.