Playa Del Racing Drivers Jaques Lazier and Roger Yasukawa Qualify INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Jaques Lazier, of Vail, Colo., driver for the Playa Del Racing Indy Racing League IndyCar Series team, qualified for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race 24th...
Playa Del Racing Drivers Jaques Lazier and Roger Yasukawa Qualify
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Jaques Lazier, of Vail, Colo., driver for the Playa Del Racing Indy Racing League IndyCar Series team, qualified for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race 24th quick with an average speed of 221.151 mph on Saturday, May 20th -- designated Pole Day after the entire first weekend of qualifications was rained out. New teammate Roger Yasukawa, added to the driver lineup at 3:30 on Friday, May 19th, timed in 28th quick at 218.793 mph. The Playa Del Racing Team did not withdraw those qualification attempts and try to re-qualify when qualifications continued on Bump Day, Sunday, May 21st.
"We're a lot different that a lot of the people here," Lazier said of his Pole Day qualification experience. "We're second weekenders, so we're mainly working on our race setup. I was flat all four laps, though. I felt like I had a lot more grip than I did earlier. This morning I was running a little quicker, but I had less grip. We went in to this and thought that the track would be warmer and we'd be just fine. And the track is just in awesome condition right now, and we had probably too much grip all around and probably lost a little speed with that. We didn't get quite what we wanted out of it, but we're at a 221-something average, which will put us safely in the field, and that's what we wanted. It's the same thing as last year; we've been working on our race setup. Our qualifying isn't that much different than our race trim. Just a little less downforce . So we'll put a little more downforce on it, raise the car just a tiny little bit, and we'll be ready to go racing. I think, all things said and done, we've got a really good car come next Sunday. We'll probably go out tomorrow and do a full-tank run, fine-tune a couple of things and be ready to go racing."
The four-time Indy 500 starter is still a bit in awe of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing" and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: "I'm happy with everything, and I'm very happy with everyone at Playa Del Racing. This place is so special, though. Every time you drive under the tunnel, you get butterflies. Anytime you can make the field, it's just a wonderful feeling. I remember my first year and I didn't. I told myself from that point on that I knew exactly how important this race is. And it was probably the best thing for my career was to miss the first one because now I know how special it is to be here. It's all about being consistent and smooth and hitting every point."
Roger Yasukawa, a late addition to the Playa Del Racing Team, got his first laps on the speedplant on Friday at about 3:30 pm. With limited laps, Yasukawa placed his #12 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone in the field in the 28th spot: "Yesterday, I was just walking around the garage and I ended up spotting for Jon Herb, and they put me in the car yesterday afternoon and now I'm qualified already," Yasukawa explained of his whirlwind week. "This is the biggest race in the world, and I've been here every day this month. It was painful walking around the garage and not being in the car. I didn't know that I was going to be in the car until this morning. Unfortunately, we did not get the time to make the car to my liking. So, we just wanted to make the show a nd to be in safely. I think we have enough speed for that. We have a lot of work to do for the race. We only have the rest of the day today and tomorrow for race setup. We'll try to get the most out of the time we have. We just have to fine-tune the car to my liking, and we'll be OK. The car feels good."
The Playa Del Racing Team knew that choosing Yasukawa would give them a great opportunity to finish in the top 10 because Yasukawa has accomplished that feat twice out of three career starts: "I'm really happy to be back here racing at Indianapolis. I love Indianapolis since it is my favorite race. I am really looking forward to next Sunday. I really have to thank the team for all the hard work they did last night to get me here. This is my fourth year, and hopefully I'll finish better than 10th. I think I had about 10 laps to get up to speed and prove that I can do the job. It certainly was not easy. It was a little nerve-wracking, but once you get back into the rhythm, it is better. I was originally talking to the team to perhaps d o some races later on this year. I guess the deal came sooner than we thought."
The Playa Del Racing team was a new entrant in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in 2005 with owners/founders Gary Sallee and Sue Schafer, debuting their team with driver Jaques Lazier at that year's Indy 500. Lazier started 27th in that race, and was running solidly in the top 10 late in the race when an accident caused by another driver forced them to finish 16th. The team, founded in 2001 and based out of Indianapolis, was officially announced as an Indy Racing League entrant on April 6, 2005, and was on track for the first time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by May 11, 2005. The team plans on running a full-time effort in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in 2007.
Co-Owner of the Playa Del Racing Team, Gary Sallee, was optimistic about the week ahead after a steady week of progress during practice sessions: "We are really happy for all of the Playa Del Racing owners and sponsors that we have qualified for our second Indy 500. This is a great continuation of the progress this team has made over the past year in building for the future. Both Jaques and Roger did a fantastic job to get their cars into the field. We've got a really great crew that will give them the best possible chance of success during next Sunday's race. Now we can just concentrate on the week ahead and prepare our team and drivers fo r a really competitive race, and hope for a good, safe race for everyone."