IRL: Tension mounts at Indy

It's an overcast and windy day here in central Indiana and final practice to fill the field for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has just been completed. Fourteen cars and thirteen drivers participated in the exercise with rookie Kosuke ...

It's an overcast and windy day here in central Indiana and final practice to fill the field for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has just been completed.

Fourteen cars and thirteen drivers participated in the exercise with rookie Kosuke Matsuura taking his backup and primary #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Hondas to the top and runner-up speed slots over 218mph.

Of the non-qualified drivers, Buddy Lazier had the quickest lap at 217.371mph in the #91 LifeFitness Dallara/Chevrolet for third overall. Jeff Simmons was fourth at 215.640 in the #12T Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota. Richie Hearn took sixth at 214.334mph in the #33 Lucas Oil Products Panoz G Force/Toyota.

Canadian Marty Roth was eighth in his #25 Dallara/Toyota with his best lap of the month: 213.662mph. PJ Jones, still learning the #98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevy was 11th at 212.346mph, while Robby McGehee finally made 25 laps with the #18 PDM Dallara/Chevy and turned 206.010mph.

With 15 minutes remaining in the session, Access Motorsports brought their #13 Renovac Panoz G Force/Honda to the pit road. The crew stood and waited with eyes on the Gasoline Alley walkway. Two Honda trackside support agents were manning their spots; Honda Performance Development vice president/general manager Robert Clarke stood by.

Driver/co-owner Greg Ray did not make it to the car before the practice session was done. Afterwards, Clarke and IRL senior vice president of racing operations Brian Barnhart had a discussion on pit road. We do not know what they discussed, of course, but it appeared to be amicable.

At this point in time, the #91 car has completed pre-qualifying tech and time trials will begin at noon EST. The #98 car is right behind. Will the field be filled? Will rain disrupt attempts to qualify?

Radar shows thunderstorm activity north of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a few drops have fallen, but nothing significant at this point. The skies remain cloudy, and the winds are shifting regularly from west to southwest and back again.

The tension is mounting.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Greg Ray , Buddy Lazier , Richie Hearn , Marty Roth , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Brian Barnhart , Robert Clark , Mo Nunn