IRL: Indy500: LP Racing notes 2001-05-17

Today will be a very special day for Mr. Bettenhausen. At 3:45pm he will drive, for the first time, his father's ...

Today will be a very special day for Mr. Bettenhausen. At 3:45pm he will drive, for the first time, his father's #99 Murrell Belanger Special that won the Indianapolis 500 in 1951. The 500 was the only race where his father did not drive the car that season. Tony Bettenhausen went on to win the majority of the races on the championship trail that year as well as the championship in the #99.

Gary told me that he's never driven the car, but it was the car that made him want to be a race car driver. He used to sit in it as a kid and pretend to win the races. He carried the #99 on many of his race cars because of this one. It is also the reason that Larry convinced Sam to run the #99 in 1997. You'll also notice that the teams, who have links to the past, still name their cars ­ i.e. "The Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special".

As the rain moves in for the next day or so, we are all staying focused on the final qualification day, Bump Day, this Sunday. Final qualifications will resume at noon and end with a bang at 6pm.

Here's how this works. After the 33rd spot is filled, the slowest guy in the field is "on the bubble" and will be the first to get bumped regardless of position. The driver that bumps him will file in at spot #33. This way we reward those that got their qualification runs done earlier.

It will take eight drivers, running faster than us to bump us out of the show. There are maybe seven that could get it done. The weather on Sunday will play a crucial role. If it's clear as a bell and cool, speeds will be faster. If it's hot and humid like yesterday, speeds will stay slow. And of course, rain is a great thing for us on Sunday. There are lots of folks we'd like to see in the show, but honestly, none more than ourselves.

Should Sunday be a total rain out, it is my understanding at this time, that come Monday, any car that is already in line (that line was determined by who was remaining last Sunday) will get one shot at the final spot, but there will be no bumping. Simply, the fastest car will start in the 33rd position.

There are 16 cars currently in line, including three back-up cars that are already in the show trying to protect their spots, two for Eliseo Salazar, and three TBAs that could be leased by someone at the last minute if their equipment can not get the job done.

Be sure to tune in ­ it could be a bumpy ride!

-LPR

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eliseo Salazar , Sam Schmidt , Tony Bettenhausen