32 qualified for Indy 500
An Andretti, an Unser and the IndyCar Series' first Latina were among 10 drivers who qualified for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. Sunday is the final day of qualifications with at least three drivers expected to compete for the final starting position in the 33-car field.
Roger Yasukawa was the quickest qualifier of the day with a four-lap average of 222.654 mph on the famed 2.5-mile oval. He will start 22nd in the 500-Mile race on May 27.
John Andretti, who has not started an Indianapolis 500 since 1994, will start 24th while Al Unser Jr., who will start his 19th 500, qualified 25th.
Milka Duno became the first rookie to join the field with a qualifying average of 219.228. The Venezuelan, who will start 29th, joins Danica Patrick and Sarah Fisher in the first field to feature three female drivers.
Other drivers to qualify included Alex Barron, Jon Herb, Jaques Lazier, Marty Roth, Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Kite.
Rookie Phil Giebler was three laps into his qualifying run when his No. 31 Playa Del Racing car crashed into the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 2. The car then spun and made contact with the inside retaining wall. Giebler was checked and released from the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. The team hopes to repair the car overnight and make another qualifying attempt Sunday.
PJ Jones and Richie Hearn also expect to vie for the final starting position.
1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 225.817
2. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 225.757
3. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 225.191
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 225.122
5. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 225.109
6. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 224.641
7. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 224.410
8. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 224.076
9. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 223.299
10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 222.877
11. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 222.789
12. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 223.875
13. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 223.693
14. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 223.495
15. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 223.471
16. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 222.826
17. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 222.595
18. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 222.413
19. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 222.333
20. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 222.327
21. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 221.960
22. (99) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 221.380
23. (24) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 222.654
24. (33) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 221.756
25. (50) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Honda, 220.876
26. (98) Alex Barron, Dallara-Honda, 220.471
27. (19) Jon Herb, Dallara-Honda, 220.108
28. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz-Honda, 219.409
29. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 219.228
30. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 218.922
31. (77) Roberto Moreno, Panoz-Honda, 216.229
32. (18) Jimmy Kite, Panoz-Honda, 214.528
MILKA DUNO (#23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I am so happy. Remember when I was here before my rookie orientation test? It's so fast. It's a so, so difficult track. But my team, the CITGO SAMAX team, did a fantastic job. After what happened last week (crash), we recovered. We have a very good car. Good run. The team did something fantastic with the car. I have such a good car for qualifying. We lost last week because they (the team) were fixing the car, but they did something amazing. I am so pleased with my engineers. (All the guys on my team), they are super, super guys." (How much anxiety did you have after your accident?): "Um, I forgot already what happened last Friday. But, it was tough because we only have one car. I was worried because I didn't know if they would have the car ready. But I did have confidence because they are super guys. They have so much experience, and they are so good. They made it be possible. Now we are here in the Indy 500. I was telling all the time, 'There's still 11 places left for qualifying, and one is mine. I'm here." (About finding the proper line around the track at Indy): "After when I talk with Brian Barnhart, all the guys that helped me, Pancho (Carter), Rick Mears, everybody that help me, I understand that the track changes all the time." (Did someone tell you to stay away from the wall during your run?): "No, no. The speed that we got today, the car can do today. But we can have a faster car." (For qualifying today), we were looking around 219. If we can make a faster car, we can do it. We didn't need to go 222; 223; 224. You were looking for a good qualifying and safety. They can make the car quick." (Milka, this marks the first time ever there have been three women in the field. What does that mean to you?): "I think the women show that they can do anything that they want. You see women like presidents, ministers, economists, engineers, doctors, race car drivers. Always I say, when you talk about a profession, it doesn't matter if you are a woman or a man. The importance is how good you are in the same activity."
ROGER YASUKAWA (#24 Wellman Corbier/DRR Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Everything is going great. The Wellman Corbier car is running really fast out of the box. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing did a very good job preparing all of the cars. They're all identical, and we're sharing data now. Luckily I had the qualifying data from last week. I think that played a lot. I was a bit surprised. I was expecting maybe a 222.1 or maybe the 221s but to do a 222.6 average, the car is running really well, and now we can work on the race setup." (About being comfortable in the car): "Last year I got thrown into the deep end, and this year has been much easier because we have that much track time. Last year it was like in and qualifying. That's been great, but the whole chemistry made a lot of sense when I got this deal. I ran for the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team in 2005, and most of the crew I have I worked with last year and the engineers I worked with in 2003. All the surroundings, the people in the radio-it all sounds familiar. For me, it's back in the office." (About being in the Indy 500): "This is the race I need to be in every single year. Hopefully I can do more. It's just so special to me that I just can't miss it. This is my fifth consecutive race hopefully and I'm really looking forward to it. Even after four or five times you still get nervous before qualifying, you still get nervous before the race. This is just an excellent race and to be a part of the history, I'm really grateful for that."
JOHN ANDRETTI (#33 Camping World Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (How has this lived up to the expectations you had going in?): "I think my experience played a part in it since I have been here a few times. The line is a little bit different, so I had to relearn some things. It has been three years since I have around this racetrack, anyway, so I had a lot to re-learn." (Is this still the hardest qualifying experience you have?): "You have to remember I came from NEXTEL Cup, and every weekend it is like qualifying for the Indianapolis 500; you have to go and try to stand your head to make it work, but I didn't have to do that today. The car was really fast and really comfortable and tried to do four consistent laps."( What is the biggest difference between 1994 and 2007?): "Probably going to be in race traffic more than anything else, and in qualifying the cars kind of do the same thing and maybe a little more forgiving at times because we certainly didn't have it on the ragged edge to do the time. It was good. It was solid, and I couldn't be more happier with the car and Panther Racing. Vitor (Meira) set it up, and all I had to do was go out and drive it." (About qualifying run): "The team deserves all the credit. The setup has been something has hasn't changed a whole lot; we have trimmed it out some. Really just being able to talk to people and learned a lot about the differences and driving a little bit, yesterday we just tried to do qualifying runs and not try to get ahead of ourselves, so you didn't see us a lot. You didn't see us this morning, and we knew we had a fast enough car in the Camping World Dallara to make the race. We just put together four solid laps, and we have a plan and we stuck to it. It's a little bit different plan than most people, like the Michael Andretti plan last weekend, and it seems to work for us because we just didn't need to do a lot of running. It would have been nice to be the quickest on the day, but the bigger picture is more important." (About qualifying goals): "Yeah, I dreamed a good number, and Helio (Castroneves) would have been disappointed, but that didn't come true." (Where does this rank in a career achievement for you?): "It's funny: Some people pick a career path and stick to it, and my path is kind of goes where the wind blows. I am just glad the wind got strong enough to blow me back to Indianapolis. It is a great opportunity for me. I can't thank Camping World and Panther Racing and the guys on the team and teammates for letting me be a part of this. It's one thing to say you want to do it and getting all the pieces together to do it. The Indianapolis 500 is huge. To get another (starters') ring is awful nice, even if you can't wear them all. It would be nice to get one of those with the checkered flag on it. Maybe of one those other Andretti's - we are going to give it our best shot. It is a very tough crowd to race against, so we have a lot of work ahead of us next Sunday."
AL UNSER JR. (#50 AJ Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (Talk about your run and your experience.): "Well, the run was pretty good. I'm what, a tenth slower than what I ran last Sunday for the four-lap average. You know, the conditions were a little bit worse today. Turn 1's a little bit loose. Then, Turn 2, the way the wind's blowing, it's washing the front end out over there. So, it took the run to get my bars set, and really, the last lap, we let it loose and opened it up and it ran a good lap. So I was happy. We were getting faster every lap. At least we're going the right direction. We're not going the other direction. It was good; it was a good run. I'm glad it's in. I was a little bit careful with it." (Would you have liked this opportunity in '95 to re-bump your way back into the race?): "In '95, we were out of the (field of) 33 in the garage, and that's the difference. I think it was'87 I was a second-weekend qualifier. My rookie year, I was a second-weekend qualifier, but it was because the first weekend got rained out, and so I qualified fifth, but it was still the second weekend. With the way qualifying is set up, we barely missed being in the top 22 last weekend, but we knew in the garage that we were one of the fastest 33." (Regarding Uncle Bobby Unser's comment that with Al Unser Jr.'s experience, every lap brings it back and by the time the race gets going, he'll be ready to go): "Definitely, we're ready to go right now. Uncle Bobby, he has his theories about drivers. He told me a long time ago, 'The thing about your dad - and I see it in you - is the longer the race, the better you're gonna do.' That's why my dad's won so many 500-mile races versus 200-mile races. He compared me a lot to my father. The more laps there are and the longer the race, the quicker I end up going and so on. But again, that's Uncle Bobby, who fell out of a lot of races by driving really super-hard. In my opinion, I think he's right. Something my dad kept telling me as I was growing up and learning this business is there's only one lap you want to lead, and that's the last one. I've tried to apply that, and if we can do that, we'll go home a winner." (How much does it help to have those two victories under your belt and all of this time at the track when you just get back in?): "It helps a little bit, the experience. The victories don't help at all. That was then, and this is now. There's a lot of similarities, but there's a lot of differences. We just enjoy racing. I love the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I love the Indy 500, and this year has been really special because of who I'm driving for. You, know, 'The King' is working on my car, and I'm getting to talk to him, and we're having a lot of fun. That's what racing's about is having a good time, having fun and enjoying yourself. With A.J. Foyt working on my car, that's exactly what it is." (Regarding John Andretti being away from the Indy 500 for 13 years): "I think he's going to enjoy it. I think John Andretti is going to enjoy the formula of the cars we're running. They do handle better in traffic than the cars that he ran back in the early '90s. For John, he's going to have a good time out there and enjoy himself. You can feel these cars. You can feel when they're going off. There are no real surprises to you. They're safer in every aspect. If the conditions are anywhere mediocre to nice, then John's going to have a good time."
ROBERTO MORENO (#77 Chastain Motorsports Panoz/Honda/Firestone): (About his qualifying lap): "It's a great feeling to be able to have fairly consistent laps. They weren't very fast, but you have to consider that we were in race trim. Basically, we had one day to get me comfortable running here in higher speeds. It's been eight years since I raced last, and the team did a good job getting me up to speed. We did have a better car than we qualified with. We got caught up by people lining up to qualify because they stopped our testing. We went back to full downforce, and thought we should try to put the car in the show in case it rains tomorrow. Somebody said it might rain tomorrow, so we put the car in line. We've been playing with the car. I wasn't comfortable with it, so we went back to full downforce and tried to balance the car in the last practice. We couldn't fine-tune the car, so I had to qualify after sitting in the car waiting to practice. We wanted to put the car in the grid. If tomorrow is dry, then we might try to get some more speed and qualify again. I can't make miracles. I came here, jumped in the car and finished the seat this morning. I was up until 10:30 p.m. last night making the seat, and came back this morning to finish it. The good thing is we have a really good race car."
JIMMY KITE (#18 PDM Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "Obviously, that's not the best time we've run today. We really missed the gearing in qualifying. It was the first time we went into sixth (gear) all day today. The car was good in fourth (gear), really good in fifth, and as soon as I went into sixth, it just fell on its face. It didn't want to pull the sixth gear we had. We know tomorrow. Obviously, we're more than likely going to have to qualify again tomorrow. I mean, I'd be shocked if we didn't. At least we got a number on the board. Now we know tomorrow we can go out, practice and just keep working at it." (What's it like to be back at PDM with owner Paul Diatlovich and the crew again?): "It's great to be here with Paul and the rest of the guys. We're just on a really short time schedule. I think we'll be fine. The car was faster than it's been all day in fourth gear and fifth gear, we just didn't have sixth. We'll make the gear change and get that right. Plus we still have a lot of trimming out on the car to do."
JON HERB (#19 Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's like deja vu all over again, but it feels good. I'm a little disappointed we didn't get more speed out of the car. We had the fuel problems, and we're still having fuel problems. We haven't fixed that. We loaded up on fuel to go out and do the run, so we were carrying an extra 7 or 8 gallons of fuel just to make sure we didn't have that problem again. It definitely cost us a bit. We would have liked to have done more work on the car, but we decided to play it safe and make sure we got a good run in. That wasn't great run for us. We've shown better but it was a good, consistent, safe run for us, so we'll take that. I think it will be OK, but not where we wanted to be, obviously. We weren't very happy with that, but discretion is the better part of valor here. After seeing Phil Giebler's crash, I think it was a little hotter today, a little bit more slippery out there. So we played it safe, loaded it up with extra fuel and ran around. It's good to get that over with and done with. We're looking forward to going racing. That's what it's all about here. Qualifying is its own race, its own little competition. We would have liked to have done better, but there's always next time."
ALEX BARRON (#98 CURB Records Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (How did your run feel? Are you glad qualifying is over?): "Yeah, it's been a long two days. We had a hiccup yesterday with the data, and this morning we came out and had a pretty big imbalance in the car. We made some big adjustments, came out this afternoon, then the next thing you know, 3 or 4 o'clock comes around, and we only got two hours in the car. We did two runs, fine-tuned it and then just put it in line. The next thing you know, 6 o'clock is going to be here. I'm really excited to be back here. I've had a lot of luck here. I've had good results. You know, it's the race to be in. Beck Motorsports, Greg Beck and CURB Records, they gave me this opportunity. Now, I can relax a little bit and enjoy it a little bit more. The last two days we've been at it. The guys have worked real hard, and they're the ones who got us in the show." (That run was like no big deal for you): "I don't know about that. We came out this morning, and the car didn't turn. We went back to the garage and made some adjustments. We came back out and the car started to turn real good. Greg made a good call on the setup. It's funny, I was here super-early this morning, and the next thing I know, 6 o'clock is rolling around."
JAQUES LAZIER (#21 Indiana Ice/Venture Logistics Panoz/Honda/Firestone): "With what we have been through today, I am excited to be in the field. I am very, very proud of these guys and everybody at Playa Del Racing. We were scratching our heads today. For some reason, we had a front wing that was very inconsistent. I am very proud of these guys and really proud to have the Indiana Ice and Venture Logistics car into the field. I know we have a good race car, and we will get ready for Race Day, and we will move this car up to the front." (Is there more of a challenge in the Panoz chassis than you expect on Race Day?): "For some reason, we can run consistent high (2) 18's and low (2) 19's by ourselves in race trim, but I put this thing in qualifying trim and we struggle. It's disappointing a little bit, but at the same time we know we have a good race car, so we will be ready for Race Day. Today has been a roller-coaster. We put on a set of tires, and all of a sudden we had a huge push. We lost some front aero, made a change, a real small change, went back out and all of a sudden we gained 3 percent aero up front, and the thing was really loose. We went back to the pad. It's been a roller-coaster, to say the least, but we are in the field, and I am ecstatic about that. This place, you can't take any thing for granted. It is very special to make the field, and I think we are pretty solidly in."
MARTY ROTH (#25 Roth Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Yeah, we were planning on doing a second qualifying run, but we were keeping an eye on the times that were coming in. We didn't want to take any chances. With Murphy's Law, you could blow a seal or something. Once you pull a car, it's pulled, and we were in the show. Unless we were getting bumped, we were going to keep it there. We were trimming the car out, and we made a call and thought we'd be safe. We put it in line, and it was sort of untested and it all just went the wrong way. We shouldn't have put the car out without testing it first, but we thought it was a pretty safe move, but it wasn't. We had our problems; we always have problems here. We were prepared to line it back up and re-qualify, but we were just watching how things were unfolding and felt it was safer to just leave it in the show where it was. We're starting in row 10, and until we have a reason to pull it, we'll leave it there." (Are you nervous about tomorrow?) "No, we're in good shape. We've been running around 220s, 221s yesterday, and we think we've got our car back. We made a few changes, and it obviously didn't go the way we thought. Our car is a high-220, low-221 car right now, that we know of, so if we have to make another qualifying attempt, we'll do it. But for now, it's in the show, and it's a long race - 500 miles is what we have to look at right now."