IRL: Indy500: Sam Schmidt Racing Sunday morning qualifying report

Pit Report ...

Pit Report #3 from Indy
Sunday, May 13, 2001 - 7:30am

Good Morning,

It is a beautiful morning here in Indianapolis. The temperature calls for a light jacket, except for me who requires a parka. The wind is still, the sun is brilliant and there is much anticipation in the air as a new Ilmor was gifted to us last night.

Yesterday was exasperating at best. Tim Neff, our engineer and Davey worked diligently to maximize the horsepower that was available against a good 20mph wind. It was a great tailwind down the front straight, but was no fun at all down the back. The car is still not perfectly balanced by any stretch of the imagination, but we made progress and felt that with a little more under the cover, we would be in the show.

Jim Fruedenberg, General Manager of Kelley Racing offered to Sam yesterday afternoon, one of their qualifying Ilmor engines as a back-up. Last night, the decision was made to put it in.

Upon review of the unqualified, there are still 25 cars that are available to make an attempt for the show. Just to demonstrate how tight this field will be, 20 of those 25 are plenty capable of getting up to speed and bumping the bottom 10 to 15. So although there were 27 cars that qualified yesterday, by no means is the field set.

Our decision not to make an attempt yesterday was based on this fact. We felt it was better to wait the day and post a solid time as oppose to taking a slower time that not only would put us in jeopardy of being bumped, but would give us no advantage relative to positioning on the grid.

For those that are new to Indy qualifying, the fastest guys today may be as quick a 10th overall, but will start no higher than 27th, rewarding those that made their attempts yesterday. The same will hold true for the final qualifying day, Bump Day, next Sunday. Also know that once a car has been qualified and is bumped from the field, it is no longer eligible to be re-qualified by anyone. You can see that for those without a backup car and a low speed, qualifying is far from over.

The crew is flat on the gas finishing the engine change; practice begins in two hours with qualifying kicking off at noon. We are fifth in the order today. No matter how many Indy's you've ever been through, qualifying is still a nerve-racking experience that you look forward to getting behind you.

- LeeAnne Nash

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sam Schmidt