IRL: Indy500: Olds dominates qualifying

<pre> IRL Aurora V8 Engines Power 31 of 33 Qualifiers for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" INDIANAPOLIS 500 SECOND-DAY QUALIFIERS: Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Raul Boesel Treadway Racing ...

<pre> IRL Aurora V8 Engines Power 31 of 33 Qualifiers for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing"

INDIANAPOLIS 500 SECOND-DAY QUALIFIERS: Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Raul Boesel Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 222.113 mph 2. Jimmy Kite Blueprint Racing Oldsmobile 220.718 3. Jaques Lazier Truscelli Racing Oldsmobile 220.675 4. Steve Knapp Dreyer/Reinbold Infiniti 220.290 5. Davey Hamilton Team Xtreme Oldsmobile 219.878 6. Jeret Schroeder Tri Star Motorsports Oldsmobile 219.322 7. Johnny Unser Indy Regency Racing Oldsmobile 219.066 8. Billy Boat A.J. Foyt Ent. Oldsmobile 218.872 9. Lyn St. James Dick Simon Racing Oldsmobile 218.826 10. Andy Hillenburg Sumar Special Oldsmobile 218.285 </pre> The final day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 featured drama, deal-making, and last-ditch attempts. When the field was finally set for next weekend's race, the 33 qualifiers included 31 Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines, seven Indy 500 rookies, three previous winners, and, for the first time in history, two female drivers.

Oldsmobile engines again dominated qualifying for the world's most famous auto race. Raul Boesel was the fastest second-day qualifier at 222.113 mph in Treadway Racing's Epson Oldsmobile G-Force. There were 21 qualifying attempts, and five cars were bumped from the field. Nine of the ten entries that qualified on "Bump Day" used IRL Aurora V8 powerplants.

"We had a new, fresh engine and we had four good laps," said Boesel, who will make his 12th Indy 500 start next weekend. "I have been close to winning this race several times. You need to be prepared."

When the gun that signaled the close of time trials went off at 6:00 p.m., Billy Boat was still circling the 2.5-mile speedway. After crashing his primary car shortly after noon and being bumped from the field just minutes after a successful second qualifying attempt, Boat bounced back in a car he had obtained from Indy legend A.J. Foyt. The Foyt-Boat collaboration that won the Indy 500 pole in 1998 and produced a third-place finish in last year's race proved magical once again. Boat earned a place in the starting lineup with a solid 218.872 mph average speed in an Oldsmobile G-Force he had never driven before his warm-up lap. The car was entered by Foyt and Kenny Brack, last year's Indy 500 winning car owner and driver.

Sarah Fisher, 19, and Lyn St. James, 53, are the youngest and oldest drivers respectively in the field. Fisher logged the most total laps of any driver (386) during practice, and qualified Walker Racing's Cummins Special in the 19th spot on the grid yesterday. After walking away from a spectacular crash on Saturday, St. James qualified Dick Simon Racing's back-up Oldsmobile G-Force today in the 32nd spot at 218.826 mph.

Three Unsers were briefly in the field. Al Unser Jr. qualified 18th and Johnny Unser is 30th. Cousin Robby Unser was bumped out by Davy Jones, the 1996 Indy 500 runner-up who was making his first IRL appearance since he was injured in January 1997. Jones was subsequently bumped by Scott Harrington, who later lost his spot to Jeret Schroeder.

Four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears was on hand to assist Andy Hillenburg, who anchored the 33-car field at 218.285 mph in the Sumar Special Oldsmobile Dallara.

The 31 Oldsmobile engines that qualified for the Indy 500 were prepared by eight independent engine builders. Comptech Machine was the power source for 12 qualifiers, and Roush Technologies prepared Oldsmobile motors for five drivers.

"The results of the last week of practice and qualifying shows that the Oldsmobile IRL engine program is in excellent shape," said Joe Negri, GM Racing IRL/Road Racing Group manager. "We had very few engine-related problems, and none were related to the new components that were developed for the 3.5-liter formula.

"We have had outstanding cooperation among our engine builders this year, and I am extremely pleased with how qualifying turned out," Negri noted. "With the changes that were made to the IRL Aurora V8 for 2000, we have been able to maintain our edge over the competition. GM Racing has produced more than 700 IRL engine sets to date, so we have a keen understanding of the technical requirements for this form of open-wheel racing."

A final two-hour practice session is scheduled for Thursday, May 25. On Sunday, May 28, the 2001 Aurora Official Pace Car driven by actor Anthony Edwards will lead the field to the green flag for the start of the Indianapolis 500 at 12 noon EDT (11:00 a.m. local time). The race will be televised live by ABC Sports.

-Rick Voegelin-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Al Unser Jr. , Davey Hamilton , Billy Boat , Jeret Schroeder , Jaques Lazier  , Jimmy Kite , Raul Boesel , Kenny Brack , Andy Hillenburg , Lyn St. James , Rick Mears , Steve Knapp , Scott Harrington , Davy Jones , Johnny Unser , Robby Unser , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt
Teams Team Xtreme