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DATE News (chronologically)
05/17/08
irl
Saturday Notebook from Indy - 2
With high winds, intermittent sunshine and rising temperatures, 21 drivers qualified for the 2008 Indy 500.  As of 4:00 Indy time, here is the qualification order:

12 - Townsend Bell - 222.539
13 - Graham Rahal - 222.531
14 - Darren Manning - 222.430
15 - Bruno Junqueira - 222.330
16 - Justin Wilson - 222.267
17 - Buddy Rice - 222.101
18 - Davey Hamilton - 222.017
19 - Alex Lloyd - 221.788
20 - Ryan Hunter-Reay - 221.579
21 - John Andretti - 221.550
22 - Sarah Fisher - 221.246
23 - Will Power - 221.136
24 - Jeff Simons - 221.103
25 - Oriol Servia - 220.767
26 - E. J. Viso - 220.356
27 - Milka Duno - 220.305
28 - Mario Morales - 219.716
29 - Enrique Bernoldi - 219.422
30 - Jaime Camara - 219.345
31 - Roger Yasukawa - 218.010
31 - Buddy Lazier - 217.939

Still to qualify —

AJ Foyt IV  — practicing at 220.9 after qualifications
Phil Giebler — Only Panoz on the track this month, they got their motor at 6:00 last night, and now practicing at 214.556. 
Max Papis  — going to a backup car after crashing primary this morning, not in practice yet
Marty Roth — perhaps wondering if John Andretti can be put in Marty's suit to qualify the car?
Mario Dominguez — car being repaired after morning crash
Ed Carpenter — practice speed of 219 before qualification attempts


*******

Jeff Simons' first run was called off, or so we thought.  It turns out that team owner AJ Foyt simply forgot to wave the green flag to start the run after the warm-up laps.  He'd only given the "thumbs up" to start Darren Manning's run earlier, so perhaps AJ's thumb simply went unnoticed the second time.

Sarah Fisher received a standing ovation when she completed her qualifying run. While giving an interview to Speed TV a would-be sponsor yelled to Sarah, "I want to sponsor you."  At Indy, this might be considered a proposition, but this time the would-be sponsor (a Saturn dealership owner) might have a chance to get Sarah's phone number.  When asked which was tougher — running an Indy car in gusty winds during qualification, or being a team owner — Sarah was adamant that driving the car was harder.  Since few people can find sponsorship for an Indy team plus attend to all of the details of keeping it competitive, one wonders how hard it was to run when the wind was bending the trees. 

Buddy Rice didn't have a high speed in mind when he qualified, but still he managed to put any doubts of making the show to rest.  Before his run he told AutoRacing1.com, "We'll do fine.  With the wind blowing the way it is and stuff we'll be alright.  We'll put it into the show and work on race trim."

Neither Rahal Letterman Racing entries were satisfied with their runs today, although both are safely in the show.  "We need to get more speed out of the cars" explained Ryan Hunter-Reay.  His teammate, Alex Lloyd, "Today we really didn't the balance right... we really didn't go all out."  However, both are working to find a good race setup, something which Rahal's team has traditional done well.  As for the comparison for Lloyd between running Indy Pro Series last year (he who at Indy on both the oval and the road course), he was blunt:  "It's a lot tougher.  I mean, in Indy Pro Series, even in qualifying when you trim it out, it's pretty simple — you put your foot flat down and you've got a bit of room for error.  In this there is no room for error.  You run as close to a knife edge as possible — the closer to the knife edge you are the quicker you're gonna be." 

When AutoRacing1.com asked Buddy Lazier if he could realistically expect to pick up 2 mph to make the show, he responded, "Sure, I had it this morning.  We'll be alright."  He then cut the interview short so he could go back to his car as practice was about to start.

Perhaps the most inspirational — and passionate — interviews were given by Davey Hamilton.  He's back to Indy for the first time after a horrific 2001 crash that nearly cost him his feet and lower legs and resulted in 21 surgeries.  He's solidly in the show at 222 × mph, but it's obvious that his competitive heart wanted more — even the pole.  He wanted to be in contention for the pole, and suggested that he'd love to modify the qualifying format to allow him to run for the pole today.  However, for him to make the race today was impressive — he broke a gear box in morning practice, cutting his practice time to virtually nothing.  The repairs had the entire rear end of the car off of the car before qualifying — "If it wasn't for Carpenter's guys, Foyt's guys,  all filled in to help my guys, we all changed the back of the car..." and the team had little idea of the true settings before they pushed the car to the line — "Who knows what it really is right now."  Hamilton continued, "That's the toughest qualifying I've ever done here... I gave it all I had... It's hard.  I'll be honest with you, I wanna win, I wanna be the fastest."

AutoRacing1.com then asked him one last question — "What do you tell someone who's had a bad accident, whom life has handed a bad break like what you had?"  Hamilton thought about it for a second, but only a second — "I was fortunate to have this (Indy 500) as a goal.  It was something that was my passion that I wanted to do again.  You gotta strive to get it no matter what your injuries are."  He continued, "While you're down, go find what that goal is.  God's given you a break, man, to go find what you love.  Just go after it.  Sometimes He gives us a break to refocus.  That's what happened to me"  Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy

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