INDIANAPOLIS, May 20 - Jeret Schroeder made two attempts to qualify for his second Indy 500 Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Tri Star Motorsports' Kroger Dallara Aurora, but his team waved both runs off because they felt ...
INDIANAPOLIS, May 20 - Jeret Schroeder made two attempts to qualify for his second Indy 500 Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Tri Star Motorsports' Kroger Dallara Aurora, but his team waved both runs off because they felt neither were fast enough to withstand the bumping process tomorrow on "Bubble Day." The 30-year-old driver from Vineland, N.J., has one more chance to qualify his primary car when time trials continue Sunday from noon until 6 p.m.
"I'm just going to go out tomorrow and put my foot to the floor and hope to get some more speed out of it," said Schroeder, who is leading the Indy Racing Northern Light series' Rookie of the Year point standings. "I honestly don't know why our speeds have been off. We felt we had to have a 220-mph run to make the show and the best we could do today was two laps at 219, so we waved the run off," Schroeder said. "We just need to find one more mile per hour."
The team has struggled since practice began last Saturday to increase its speeds. The car has been pushing and its straight-line speed is not what the team expected despite all their stalwart efforts, including at least one all-nighter by the pit crew, extensive computer data and input from various specialists.
Each car only has three chances to qualify over the course of the two days, and the fastest 33 cars make the field. So far 23 cars have qualified. Greg Ray earned the pole for next Sunday's race with an average speed of 223.471 mph.
Schroeder's first attempt came at 12:47 p.m. Saturday. His first lap was run at an average speed of 217.155 mph and his second was at 218.029 mph before that run was waved off.
"I kind of miscalculated what we had done to the car in terms of the trick qualifying stuff for the first attempt, and I wasn't aggressive enough on the first two warm-up laps the first time," Schroeder said.
At 3:53 p.m. he made his second attempt, where he recorded extremely consistent laps at an average speed of 219.165 mph and 219.063 mph before that run was waved off too.
"That time the oil pressure light went on, but that's because we had blocked off the oil cooler to try to get more speed," Schroeder said. "We didn't hurt the motor any."
The 6 p.m. gun signaling the end of track activities for the day went off and it was misting lightly when Schroeder was on his warm-up laps for his third attempt. He didn't take the green flag that time due to the adverse weather conditions, so he still has one more chance tomorrow.
"All I know is that I was flat out all the time," Schroeder said. "The Tri Star team has been working incredibly hard to try to solve the problem, but so far it has eluded us. I'm going to get out of here now and try to get a decent night's sleep and we'll keep on working on it tomorrow. Dr. Jack [Miller, his teammate] and I were comparing gray hairs, and we both have some. It's extremely frustrating for all of us to say the least."
Schroeder's back-up car is a '99 Dallara that hasn't been tested here. No '99 models are expected to make the field due to the aerodynamic improvements of the 2000 cars.
When asked if he knew of any contingency plans should his third run not be fast enough tomorrow, Schroeder said, "I honestly don't know. That's Larry Curry's decision." Curry is a team co-owner and its engineer.
Of the 23 cars whose qualifying times were posted Saturday, the last four were run at 219 mph.
Schroeder ran laps at over 220 mph during practice Saturday, but other cars were on the track so he had the advantages of a draft.
Saturday was overcast with temperatures in the mid-fifties to low sixties, north winds at about 6 mph and a relative humidity of 77 percent.
The weather prediction for Sunday is about the same.