Indy Saturday Notebook - 6
Bruno Junqueira, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter and the 2002 polesitter, will drive the No. 36 Conquest Racing entry. The team has primary sponsorship from All Sport/Big Red.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 36 ALL SPORT/BIG RED): "At least I'm here. In years past I came here looking to start on the pole. Now I'm looking to make the field, but if you run the race you have a chance to win. I'm happy with the opportunity Conquest Racing gave me. I've been walking around here two weeks trying to find a ride, and I finally found it. The main thing is to make sure the car works fine today and put it in the field. Then you can work toward having a good race."
ERIC BACHELART (Owner, Conquest Racing): "We are very excited to have Bruno join the team. Bruno is a proven winner, and I am fully confident in his abilities to come out and do well despite the limited practice time. Bruno also brings with him a wealth of experience racing here at Indianapolis and we look forward to working with him."
The final qualifier for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 field on Bump Day will earn a $50,000 bonus for winning the Firestone Final Qualifier Award.
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY CENTENNIAL ERA FACT OF THE DAY: Alvin Case, 89, is working his 64th Indianapolis 500 this May and is one of the longest-serving employees at the track. Case runs the fire department office located in the infield near Turn 1. He worked for Link-Belt, a chain manufacturing company, from 1939-84, starting in the mail room and retiring as a process engineer. A conversation with Case reveals four loves: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Purdue University, baseball and his grandkids.
(About his start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "The first two years I worked at the gates and took tickets at Gate 3. I remember the first year, 1946, the race was half over and we were still taking tickets. The cars were overheated and everything. It was a mess. The next year, we took tickets again, and just as the bomb sounded, we heard a horrible noise and just about every motorcycle in Indiana jumped ahead of the crowd. Some of them had tickets, and some of them didn't. I thought, 'This isn't for me.' Clarence Cagle moved next to me in my apartment complex and we became good friends, and he put me on the fire department. I've been there ever since. That was in '48. For maybe 12 years I worked on the track. At that time, we had one what we called the crash truck, and it operated out of the pits. Whenever there was a wreck, they'd sound the bell and we jumped on and went around the track. It was not like it is today. It was a little Studebaker that they put fire equipment on. We had a regular fireman that drove it. One time, I think it was 1950, a car caught on fire as it came out of the fourth turn and ended up on the straightaway right before the pits. It was the Brown Motor Car Special. By the time we got all the way around, the thing had burned up. The owner, he was mad. He said he had spent $19,000 while we were riding around the track. That little old Studebaker wasn't very fast. From then on, they put out much better trucks. Today, they've got them all over the place."
(About his office role after 1960): "At that time, I took attendance because back then we didn't have these swipe cards. I issued equipment, always kept a count of all of our extinguishers every day, just ran the office. At one time I knew every extinguisher. We've got over 1,000 extinguishers around this place. It's kept growing and growing and growing. What I liked, our fire office was under the stands right going into the first turn, and victory circle at that time the cars would come right in front of the fire station. We were on the track practically. All these interesting people would come in. I remember Red Adair, the guy who puts out all these oil fires, he came in. Nicest guy in the world. The favorite was Jim Garner. Joe Garagiola came down here one time, and he was really nice. Even when the race would start, before all these new buildings were built, Mari and Tony, young Tony George, would come in when the race started and stay for a few laps."
(About growing up on the west side of Indianapolis): "I lived in Speedway, so you had to love racing. I grew up on the west side of Indianapolis and lived in Speedway since 1948. I'm the only one on the fire department who's from Speedway. Before the war, we came out and watched. If you lived on the west side of Indianapolis, all these people, Billy Arnold and all the names, we came out and watched them. My first memory was 1928 or '29 and Billy Arnold, he was my hero, he won the race in 1930. I met George Souders. He won the race in 1927. I came out to qualifications and practice. It was something."
(About his love for Purdue): "But, I'm a Boilermaker fan number one. I went to Purdue extension, just couldn't afford to go. It was the height of the Depression. When I was about 10 years old, Washington High School was brand new then, and our first graduate went to Purdue. He was a great ballplayer - Jim Carter. He was one of the 'Touchdown Twins.' He still holds one record up there. They're putting a book out on him now. I guess my highlight was when Coach Keady came in and saw us (last year). He came in here and took pictures with us and then sent us a bunch of hats."
(About his love of baseball and the Dodgers): "Why was I a Dodger fan? I don't know. I was born and raised right here in Indianapolis. I finally went out to Brooklyn to see them play, and then they moved to L.A., and they've been in L.A. for 50 years. For some reason, Duke Snider was always my favorite player, number four. Every time I'd go gambling or horse races, I'd bet on No. 4. I kept a record. That sucker has cost me about $1,500 over the years. He's the only person I've ever asked for an autograph for myself. He was so nice. When he went up in '47, the same time Jackie Robinson did, they both went up for $5,000 a year, and they both made the Hall of Fame."
(About family): "I've got two grandchildren and a son and a daughter. In fact, my son-in-law worked 25 years out here. He worked the crash truck out of the fourth turn until three years ago when he thought he should spend some more time with his kids. They're girls, playing softball over here in Speedway. Believe it or not, they don't like it. They like sports, but for some reason they don't care for the track. And they live a mile from here. Isn't that something? But their father sure did. My daughter isn't interested, either."
(About other highlights at the track): "I got to be honorary starter last year. That was fun. I was scared to death, thought I would fall down between the (pit walls). That was awful nice of them."
Sarah Fisher Racing intends to focus on its primary entry for team owner/driver Sarah Fisher and not field a second entry, team manager/crew chief Andy O'Gara said this morning.
The team looked at a car owned by Sam Schmidt but has no plans to purchase it, O'Gara said. Jaques Lazier and Alex Barron inquired about the possibility of a ride with the team, O'Gara said.
ANDY O'GARA: "I'm 95 percent sure that we're solid. We're fine where we're at."
With qualifying winding down to Bump Day, speed and strategy are about to leave their mark on the tail end of the 33-car starting lineup. Larry "Big Daddy" Curry, director of competition for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, has seen qualifying from both the front and rear of the field during his career, and cars he has managed or wrenched have qualified in the last 10 minutes four times through the years.
Last year, Curry led Marty Roth's effort and positioned himself in line to bump back in when Roth was on the bubble, but at the head of the line and with time waning, he could've withdrawn Roth's qualified time and tooled around to run out the clock. But in an effort of sportsmanship, Roth pulled out and let Mario Dominguez try to bump his way in. Dominguez crashed, Roth was in, and the rest was history.
LARRY CURRY: "The first thing is, every time they have a draw, you draw for everything you have because you don't know what it's going to mean. This year will take a lot better shape today. It's very difficult to figure out what people can run because a lot of people are getting towed. Right now, four laps at 219 will put you in, but if it's 62 degrees and no wind Sunday, that may change. If you're sitting on the edge, you have to understand it takes five minutes to qualify a car. You have to be in line by 5:30 (Sunday). What if someone crashes and they have to take time to clean it up? Then there might be two or three bouncing around for position. Right now, there are five or six guys who can nail it down pretty quick. Then you get into the other six to determine who's going to fill the field. I would rather leave here today with a number on the board than wake up Sunday with 40 mile-an-hour winds. Sometimes you have to force the issue. When you play on the back end of the deal, you have to force the competition to show their hand. It really starts at about 4 o'clock Sunday, and you may run the car through tech and roll out and see who goes in with you. Some of these guys have only one car. At 4 o'clock, you start paying attention."
Azul Tequila has joined KV Racing Technology as a sponsor. Azul is Mexico's fastest-growing 100 percent agave tequila brand and is newly available in the United States.
KEVIN KALKHOVEN (Co-owner, KV Racing Technology): "We are very pleased to announce that Azul Tequila has joined KV Racing Technology for this year's Indianapolis 500. This is a company that has been making award-winning products for many years. That is a model that fits perfectly with KVRT's mission statement."
This is Armed Forces Weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Members of United States military branches are at the track.
LIEUTENANT CHRISTOPHER YANE: (On why the Coast Guard is here this weekend): "We're a search and rescue crew out of Traverse City, Mich. We're here to support the Indianapolis 500 for Armed Forces Day. We brought our helicopter, an HH-65 'Charlie' Dolphin search and rescue, down to display, show the public and the supporters of the Indy 500 and to support Armed Forces Weekend."
FIRST LIEUTENANT SAMUEL WELL: (On why the National Guard is attending this weekend): "We're here for Armed Forces Day. We set up a booth to show our abilities and what we do. Just to better explain to the community what our role is here as the National Guard."
PETTY OFFICER GARY HARLAN: (On why the Navy is here this weekend): "We're here in support of the Armed Forces Day weekend that they have here at the time trials and the track every year. We just show up here and show the presence of the Navy. Set up a booth over there with the rest of the Armed Forces and come out here and have a good time."
Indianapolis 500 veteran Sarah Fisher will be a guest on the "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" at 11 p.m. (ET) Monday, May 18 on Comedy Central.
It will be Fisher's first appearance on the popular show, which has won Emmy and Peabody awards. "The Daily Show" is a reality-based look at news, trends, pop culture, current events, politics, sports and entertainment, with an alternative point of view.