Jaques Lazier and Playa Del Racing Finishes 16th In The 89th Indy 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Jaques Lazier, of Vail, Colo., driving the No. 21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, today finished 16th in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race after...
Jaques Lazier and Playa Del Racing Finishes 16th In The 89th Indy 500
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Jaques Lazier, of Vail, Colo., driving the No. 21 Playa Del Racing Panoz/Toyota/Firestone, today finished 16th in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race after starting 27th on the grid.
Lazier advanced from the 27th position to 13th within the first 40 laps, aided by a near-perfect pit stop by his veteran crew. That performance in the pits, which repeated itself throughout the afternoon, combined with the heavy right foot of Lazier and luck needing pit stops just as two separate cautions came out, put Lazier solidly on target for a top-10 finish on the lead lap. His Toyota powerplant ran strong and smooth all day, positioning him to be the top-finishing Toyota-powered team on the track if the day progressed as well as it started. However, about 50 laps from the end of the race, while running 9th, Lazier slowed to avoid an accident ahead of him, and rookie Jeff Bucknum ended up running over the right rear tire of Lazier, damaging a suspension piece. Lazier spent about 10 laps in the pits as the team repaired the damaged part, and then he resumed the race, eventually finishing a disappointing 16th-place.
"It was a great fight," a disappointed Lazier stated after the checkers flew. "Unfortunately at the end of it, we couldn't be a part of it. You know, Brian (Barnhart) always says cautions breed cautions. Unfortunately a car spun in front of us. We were able to get around, but I guess somebody from behind didn't know how to put on the brakes and plowed right over the top of us. It's really unfortunate. It bent one of our suspension pieces and took us from what I think would have been a top-10 to a 16th-place finish. Even a 16th-place finish, given the fact that this team started just really eight weeks ago, is absolutely fantastic here. All the accolades go to the team for sure because they gave me a great car. I was able to run around there all day--just a little bit short, but maybe next year.
"I'm absolutely thrilled as can be. We finished 16th but had a top-10 car. Realistically, if we wouldn't have gotten run over, we would have had a top-10 car and finished on the lead lap. This was a huge win for this team. Given the team's lack of history (team was just announced on April 6, 2005), I can't give enough accolades to them. If we continue and get the sponsorship dollars we need, we will be dominant in this series, based on what happened today."
Team co-owner Susan Schafer, although disappointed in the turn of events during the race, was also optimistic about Playa Del Racing's future.
"I couldn't be prouder of this team -- they performed with heart and soul," Schafer said after a round of congratulations to her team. "Jaques drove a hell of a race. We've got a lot to be proud of -- that could have easily been a top-10 finish if it wasn't for a rookie's mistake that basically took us out of contention. But that's racing. The results today surely gave us something to look forward to in the future."
Gary Sallee, also a co-owner of Playa Del Racing, took what happened on the track today as a sign of strength for his team.
"This team's greatest resource is its people, and they showed their character today," said a proud Sallee. "For some of the race we were the top-performing Toyota team, destined for a top-10 finish. But we suffered an unfortunate incident caused by others. Without that, we would have been fighting for the top positions at the end of the race."
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. Future plans for the team include competing in the IRL race at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (Oct. 16), and possibly a few other races throughout the season in preparation for running a full-time effort in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series in 2006.