IRL: Indy 500: Honda Bump day report

Greg Ray Leads Final Day of Indy Qualifying Completes 11-Car Honda "500" Effort Greg Ray led the third and final day of qualifying Sunday for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500, taking his Access Motorsports Honda around the 2.5 mile oval...

Greg Ray Leads Final Day of Indy Qualifying
Completes 11-Car Honda "500" Effort

Greg Ray led the third and final day of qualifying Sunday for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500, taking his Access Motorsports Honda around the 2.5 mile oval for four laps at an average speed of 216.641 mph. As a result, Ray will start 27th, on the outside of the ninth row of the traditional three-abreast grid.

Ray, the 1999 Indy Racing League champion and pole qualifier at Indy in 2000, was the fastest of the final seven qualifiers making runs Sunday to complete the 33-car starting field. Additionally, Ray made his qualifying run after a total of only 20 practice laps, all completed this morning, as the team owner/driver had spent the previous two weeks attempting to raise the sponsorship needed to secure his Indianapolis-based team's future in the IRL.

Today's effort by Ray and his Access Motorsports team capped Honda's most successful Indy qualifying performance in four years at Indianapolis. Honda drivers claimed the first seven positions, and eight of the top nine, in Pole Day qualifying. In just his second Indy appearance, Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice claimed the pole and was the only driver to average more than 222 mph in qualifying. Andretti Green Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti completed the first row for Honda.

Bruno Junqueira heads the inside of the second row for Newman-Haas Racing, followed by Tony Kanaan in his Andretti Green entry. Fernandez Racing owner/driver Adrian Fernandez with start sixth, and reinforced his status as a '500' favorite by consistently appearing in the top five in the daily practice sessions. Vitor Meira, another Rahal Letterman Racing driver making only his second Indy 500 start, rounds out Honda's top seven qualifiers.

Rookie Kosuke Matsuura placed his Super Aguri Fernandez Racing Honda on the outside of the third row with a run of 220.740 mph. The Japanese driver was the fastest of seven rookies in this year's Indy field, and like teammate Fernandez, was usually at or near the top of the daily practice sheets.

Roger Yasukawa, the third Rahal Letterman entry and also making his second 500 start, will start 12th, on the outside of the fourth row. Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta led the four 'second day' qualifiers with a average speed of 219.871 mph to start 23rd, in the middle of the eighth row.

With the conclusion of qualifying, only the traditional hour-long "Carburetion Day" final practice on Thursday, May 27 remains before the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will be televised live in the U.S. at 12 p.m. EDT Sunday, May 30, on ABC.

Greg Ray (#13 Access Motorsports Honda) Fastest Bump Day Qualifier, will start 27th: "With our lack of track time this month, we had to take a conservative approach and just make sure we put the car safely in the field. I believe in the right situation, we could have contended for the pole here. We had a front-row start at the race in Japan last month. But it's been a nerve-wracking two weeks as I had to focus on my role as a 'team owner', rather than as a 'driver', trying to ensure the long-term future of this team."

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Vitor Meira