JAQUES LAZIER QUALIFIES FOR THE 89th INDIANAPOLIS 500-MILE RACE - Playa Del Racing Driver To Start 27th In May 29th Race - INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Jaques Lazier, of Vail, Colo., driving the No. 21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, today ...
JAQUES LAZIER QUALIFIES FOR THE 89th INDIANAPOLIS 500-MILE RACE
- Playa Del Racing Driver To Start 27th In May 29th Race -
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Jaques Lazier, of Vail, Colo., driving the No. 21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, today qualified 27th fastest for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on the third day of qualifications for the Memorial Day weekend classic. Lazier initially had qualified for the race with a four-lap average speed of 220.034 mph on May 15th during the first weekend of qualifications, but was bumped out of the guaranteed spots for the fastest 22 cars in the final minutes of qualifying.
"I'm very confident. I'm very happy with a 221 (mph average)," a relieved and excited Lazier stated after his successful mid-day run after an earlier attempt that resulted in his car wiggling between Turns 1 and 2 on the first lap of his first qualification attempt. Continuing with an explanation of his eventful day, he said, "I think, realistically, if we wouldn't have had the car step out on us, we would have had a pretty big moment there. Four weeks ago, we had a tub that wasn't painted and a bunch of parts, and basically, we've been thrashing ever since to try to get the package ready. The team's put a lot of late hours in, and we're here, and we're living the dream right now, and we're qualified for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," and in my opinion, the greatest spectacle anywhere. Obviously, any time your car steps out that big, with new tires, you are always better off at the beginning of the run than at the end of the run, and you try to hang on. But when it steps out on the first lap, it's time to bring it in before you're in the wall."
The Playa Del Racing team is a new entrant in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, with owners/founders Gary Sallee and Sue Schafer. 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 competing at the 2005 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, the IRL race at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (Oct. 16), and a few races in between in preparation for running a full-time effort in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in 2006.
"This was an unbelievable experience for the team, and I'm so proud of Jaques, every person on the crew and all of our sponsors and supporters," Sallee said. "We have worked really hard to put this program together. For just announcing our team on April 6th, I think we've done well. Our goal was to make sure we got into this race, and we've accomplished that today. We have more work to do to prepare for the race, but for now, we'll take some time and enjoy this experience and look forward to a strong run in the race next Sunday."
Schafer made special note of the team effort it took to qualify for the Indy 500 as she reflects on the roller-coaster ride that is qualifying for this event.
"What a great day," Schafer exclaimed after the team's successful qualification effort. "I couldn't be happier for everyone on the team who has worked so hard to make this effort work over the past two months, and I want to make sure they know how much Gary (Sallee, co-owner) and I appreciate their perseverance and patience as we build this new program. I think it is paying off. Although we formally announced this team in early April, Gary and I have been working toward this day since 2001, so this has been extremely rewarding for all of us. We will continue to work hard in building a strong team and foundation for our program as we work toward a top-10 finish next week, and then run a few more races this year in preparation for a full-time IndyCar effort in 2006."