IRL: Indy500: One spot left in the field

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 13, 2001 - One day to go, one spot to go. Just one spot in the 33-car field for the 85th Indianapolis 500 remains after second-day qualifying on May 13 at the Indianapolis 500, as eight drivers qualified for the race...

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 13, 2001 - One day to go, one spot to go.

Just one spot in the 33-car field for the 85th Indianapolis 500 remains after second-day qualifying on May 13 at the Indianapolis 500, as eight drivers qualified for the race May 27.

Three drivers - Michael Andretti, Buzz Calkins and 1998 Indy winner Eddie Cheever Jr. - each gambled by pulling the cars they qualified Saturday out of the field and requalifying in their second cars. The risk paid off, as all three were faster today than Saturday.

"Qualifying at Indy is a very pressure-filled situation, even if things go well," Cheever said. "I'm going back (home) to Orlando tonight. I can't wait."

Other drivers earning a spot in the world's most prestigious auto race were veterans Tyce Carlson, Davey Hamilton and Jeret Schroeder, and rookies Nicolas Minassian and Bruno Junqueira.

One day of qualifying remains, Bump Day next Sunday. Practice continues Wednesday through Saturday.

Junqueira was the fastest second-day qualifier at 224.208 in the No. 44T Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, earning him the 25th starting spot. Junqueira was the third driver to make an attempt today, following his teammate Minassian, who qualified 27th at 223.006 in the No. 33T Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

Ganassi Racing now has four drivers in the field, as Tony Stewart and Jimmy Vasser qualified on MBNA Pole Day. This is the first time since 1997 in which one team will have at least four cars in the race, as Team Scandia had five cars that year.

The high drama for the day was reserved for the last 90 minutes of qualifying.

Calkins was the first driver to decide to withdraw his qualified car for a second car, at 4:39 p.m. (EST). He qualified the No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone in 29th at 222.467, faster than the 220.039 he posted Saturday in the No. 12T.

Andretti followed suit at 5:42 p.m. (EST), just 18 minutes before the end of qualifying for the day. He put his No. 39T Motorola/Archipelago Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone into the field in 26th at 223.441, faster than the 220.747 posted in the No. 39 Saturday.

Cheever continued the risky trend at 5:52 p.m. (EST). He qualified 30th at 222.152 in the #51 Excite @Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. His previous speed in the No. 51T on Saturday was 220.513.

Within that last 90 minutes of qualifying, Indy Racing Northern Light Series standout Eliseo Salazar appeared to be safely in the field when smoke poured from the No. 14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone in Turn 4 on his fourth and final qualifying lap. Now Salazar will be forced to find a spot in the field on Bump Day.

"Now I have to fight for my life just to make the race," Salazar said. "If someone says qualifying at Indy is somebody's idea of having fun, they must be a masochist."

Memo Gidley, Stan Wattles and 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier were unhurt in separate crashes. Gidley and Lazier each crashed in practice, while Wattles crashed on the first lap of his first qualification attempt.

Gidley and Wattles still haven't qualified for the race. Lazier made the field on MBNA Pole Day and was testing race setups in a backup car when he crashed.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Buzz Calkins , Eddie Cheever , Eliseo Salazar , Davey Hamilton , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Jeret Schroeder , Bruno Junqueira , Nicolas Minassian , Tyce Carlson , Stan Wattles , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing