From Amy Konrath
INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 23, 2010 – Drama took center stage on Bump Day as the field for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 was filled in an exciting final hour that saw former IZOD IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan qualify a backup car and rookie Sebastian Saavedra make the race when gambles by Paul Tracy and Jay Howard failed to pay off.
Joining Kanaan and Saavedra in the field of 33 cars are rookies Takuma Sato and Mario Romancini, and veterans John Andretti, Sarah Fisher, Vitor Meira, Alex Lloyd and Bruno Junqueira.
Left out are Howard, Tracy, Milka Duno and Jaques Lazier, who replaced A.J. Foyt IV in the No. 41 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing car following the morning practice.
Saavedra, whose No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport car made contact with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier while practicing with 1 hour, 10 minutes left in the session, was transported to the hospital as a precaution. He got the news he had made the field while undergoing an MRI at Methodist Hospital. The MRI was negative, and he was cleared to drive.
BUMP DAY NOTES:
To preview the 2010 Indianapolis 500, several top drivers will visit New York City on Tuesday, May 25 for a photo and interview opportunity at Herald Square.
The drivers, in race day uniform, will arrive in a parade of Indianapolis 500-decaled Honda vehicles and line up for photos outside Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square. Following the photo opportunity, all drivers will be available for interviews during a media luncheon at Gotham Hall.
Bill York, a media center official at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 46 years, waved the green flag as the honorary starter of practice this morning. York celebrates his 77th birthday today.
BILL YORK: “It was a great experience and certainly something I’ve looked forward to doing for a long, long time. I’m 77 years old today. That’s good for anybody. I thank everybody for this opportunity and their birthday wishes and letting me out here today. I got to take a couple of laps in the Pace Car. It doesn’t get any better than this. I started working at the Speedway in 1964, the same year as (IMS archivist) Bob Clidinst. (IMS Media Center official) Kaye Totten was around here working somewhere, too. My first time out here was in 1957 with the Purdue band, carrying a flag. In 1958, I was here with Stark and Wetzel for the Rookie of the Year program. It’s a great experience.”
Medical update from Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of medical services: #11T Tony Kanaan was evaluated in the Clarian Emergency Medical Center this morning and released without injury. He is cleared to drive.
Andretti Autosport is working to repair the #11T car in which Tony Kanaan crashed this morning so Kanaan can make a qualifications attempt this afternoon. Crew members from the Andretti Autosport cars of Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay are feverishly working on the car in Gasoline Alley, using parts from the #37 chassis that Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified 17th Saturday.
The team anticipates the repaired car to be ready to turn laps between 1-2 p.m.
Entry update: Jaques Lazier has replaced A.J. Foyt IV as driver of the No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing entry after practice this morning. Foyt turned a fast lap of 221.823 this morning.
A.J. FOYT RACING TEAM STATEMENT: “Jaques Lazier will replace A.J. Foyt IV in the No. 41 ABC Supply car and is being fitted in the car. Foyt was uncomfortable in the car, and it was decided to let Lazier try to qualify the car. If Lazier makes the race, he will race the car.”
New enlistees were inducted into the Armed Forces in a ceremony this morning in front of the Pagoda as part of Armed Forces Day activities. The new enlistees were sworn in by Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana.
Troops from the Indiana National Guard were at the Speedway today on Armed Forces Day, interacting with fans viewing helicopters on display.
SGT. ADAM FOSTER (Greenfield, Ind.): “It’s really cool to see the excitement in the fans’ faces. I remember when I was little coming out and seeing stuff like this. I thought it was really exciting. So I enjoy talking to the kids and adults and just showing them what we do on a day-to-day basis.” (I assume the No. 4 National Guard car is your favorite?): “Yeah, that would be the general consensus.”
SGT. MATTHEW CROSSLEY (Indianapolis): “It’s a pretty cool deal. We get to share some of our experiences and get the younger crowd involved. It’s been awesome for them, just to answer their questions and buckle them in the seatbelts. That’s one of the coolest things we get to do.”
1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva visited the Speedway today.
TOM SNEVA: “It’s always good to come back in the Month of May. We’ve been coming back for the race, actually, every year since I retired in ’92.” (On the differences in the qualifying format now than when he raced): “Well, this qualifying format they used yesterday for Pole Day was very interesting. It’s great for the spectators, probably not so great for the drivers. You know, qualifying is one of the toughest things a driver will do here at Indy. For those to have to go out two, three, four different times or so, that was a tough day for the drivers. But this is sports entertainment, and you’ve got to change things. I think it’s for the better. You’ve got to make it more entertaining because there’s too many other forms of sports entertainment out there. I think it’s great that the Speedway’s done this, and I think it will be good for them in the long run.”
1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier visited the track today. His younger brother, Jaques Lazier, landed a ride with A.J. Foyt Racing this afternoon.
BUDDY LAZIER: “I’m happy for Jaques, and I will always support my family. He was going to be in a third car for Foyt, so it was a natural for him to get that car. I had a few things working, and it’s just really tough with the economy. I’m still really happy for my brother, and I hope he does a good job.”
Brooke Dorsett, the 2010 500 Festival Queen, is no stranger to racetracks. Dorsett, from Bedford, Ind., attended a sprint car race earlier this spring at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway. While there, Dorsett presented race winner Jeff Bland Jr. with his trophy for winning the sprint car feature.
Dorsett grew up going to short tracks around southern Indiana and has friends and family involved in sprint car racing.
Indianapolis 500 veteran Jaques Lazier talked about landing a ride today in the No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing entry, and Lazier and former heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield talked about their commercial relationship for this race.
JAQUES LAZIER: “When I woke up this morning, I was just planning on coming here and massaging some sponsors that I’ve been working on. We were up in the suite when we got the call to come on down and hop in the car. So I’m down here getting ready to jump in the car, try to get it up to speed and get it qualified.” (On putting the deal together with sponsorship from Evander Holyfield): “Well, we’ve been working for about two months now, just trying to put the deal together with Foyt. We just came up a day late and a dollar short. Evander Holyfield is one of our sponsors. He has a water company called Holyfield Choice Alka-Pure, which is an alkaline-based water that is very good for athletes. It’s great for bringing the body up to the right pH balance. Evander will be out on pit road. We’re working with him and trying to sell a ton of bottles of water. We’re ready to rock and roll.”
EVANDER HOLYFIELD: “We’re teaming up with A.J. (Foyt) and his crew just trying to support the 41 car. I’m working with Alka-Pure, and we’re trying to do something positive. Jaques is a seasoned veteran, and A.J. is giving him a great opportunity. He can get out there and be quick. Hopefully, with the experience he has, he could possibly win this thing. It wasn’t difficult to get behind him. It all came together, and hopefully it will end up pretty good.”
The USO is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today to offer a free service, Messages from Home. Fans can visit the A.J. Foyt Suite (Suite 12) on Legends Row to record video messages to send to friends and family who are on active duty in the United States military.
MARILYN BROWN (USO, from Avon, Ind.): “Even if you are in uniform today and you have a friend that is back there and you are here on leave, come on over and send them a message. We would be more than happy to do that video for you. We actually mail them for the person who is being taped. There is no cost for this service. We have done this for a few years here. We’re getting more information out there about what we’re doing. We also have people located in the Rolls Royce Suite.”
Crews for the Andretti Autosport teams of drivers Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick worked this morning to rebuild the #11T backup car of Kanaan, who crashed in practice at 9:21 a.m. today.
The rebuilt car was in the technical inspection line by 1 p.m.
Body parts came from five different cars: Kanaan’s 11 and 11T; Andretti’s 26T and Hunter-Reay’s 37 and 37T. Mechanical components are a combination of what was salvageable from the 11T and the 37, which Hunter-Reay qualified 17th yesterday.
Medical update from Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of medical services: #29 Sebastian Saavedra is awake and alert and was transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis via ground after complaining of back pain. He is not cleared to drive. He will be re-evaluated after undergoing tests.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: “It’s unfortunate. We were doing a great job bringing the car together, and the guys have been working so hard. It’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to wait and see for one hour, but we still have lots of faith. We tried a different platform to find some mechanical grip. It was a bit edgy in the qualifying session, so we wanted to search for rear grip. I went out there, and it didn’t feel right, so I came back in. We tried to work more on the rear, but that didn’t work. We went into Turn 1, and the rear started to come around. I thought I would be able to catch it, but it wasn’t possible.”
INDIANAPOLIS 500 ARMED FORCES DAY/BUMP DAY QUICK QUOTES: (Full quotes available at www.indycar.com/media)
PAUL TRACY (No. 15 GEICO – CURB Records -KVRT): “I’ve just got to thank the KV team. The car was quick all week when it was cold. It was quick this morning when it was cold. As soon as the track temperature came up, we couldn’t get a handle on it. I was just sitting in the car. When we needed the car to run in the heat, it just wouldn’t run. I was hanging on. When you’re sliding like that, you’re just scrubbing speed off. It cuts deep. All the preparation to get ready for this. It’s a hard blow. It’s going to be a long drive home in the motor home.”
SARAH FISHER (Team owner, #66 Howard): “I honestly can’t believe this is happening. There’s an issue there. It’s not for lack of trying. It’s going to be pretty detrimental for the rest of the year.” (About decision to withdraw Howard run and retry): “I think it was the best decision we had to make with everything Paul (Tracy) was doing. It’s detrimental to our sponsors and our budget. I don’t know what we’re going to do now. We’re going to have to come up with a plan for the season.”
TAKUMA SATO (No.5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology): “It has been amazing, especially after such a difficult day yesterday. The team did an outstanding job, putting everything back into one piece. When I got back in the car this morning, everything felt comfortable. At lunch time it was difficult because of the warmer temperatures, and we really didn’t get up to speeds we had earlier. The last half an hour was chaos to be honest but we made it. The team did a great job, and I’m really proud of them.
Today is the 40th birthday of Indianapolis 500 veteran Bryan Herta, who owns the No. 29 car driven by rookie Sebastian Saavedra, who ended qualifying on the bubble.
Four drivers did not qualify for the 2010 Indianapolis 500: #15 Paul Tracy, #18 Milka Duno, #41 Jaques Lazier, #66 Jay Howard.
2010 INDIANAPOLIS 500 FIELD NOTES:
•The field average is 224.974 mph, the fastest since 2002. The field average in 2002 was 228.648, the fastest field in Indianapolis 500 Mile Race history.
•This is the closest matched field by time in Indianapolis 500 history. 3.0622 seconds separate fastest qualifier Helio Castroneves and slowest qualifier Sebastian Saavedra. The previous record was 3.0967 seconds set in 2009.
•This is the eighth-closest matched field by speed in Indianapolis 500 history. 4.336 mph separate fastest qualifier Helio Castroneves and slowest qualifier Sebastian Saavedra. The record is 3.130 mph, set in 1953.
•There are a record four women in the starting field: Ana Beatriz, Simona De Silvestro, Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick. The previous record was three, from 2007-09 with Fisher, Patrick and Milka Duno.
•There are four Indianapolis 500 winners in the starting field: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007) and Scott Dixon (2008). Between them they have seven victories. The record for most former winners in the field is 10, in 1992. The fewest, other than the inaugural race in 1911, is zero in 1912.
•There are six Chase Rookie of the Year candidates in the field. This year’s rookies are #5 Takuma Sato, #25 Ana Beatriz, #29 Sebastian Saavedra, #34 Mario Romancini, #36 Bertrand Baguette and #78 Simona De Silvestro. #66 Jay Howard was the only Chase Rookie of the Year candidate to fail to qualify. There were four Chase Rookie of the Year candidates in the 2009 starting lineup.
•In addition to the 6 Chase Rookie of the Year candidates in the race, there is one driver – Bruno Junqueira – who did not start in last year’s race.
•John Andretti is the most experienced driver in the field, with 10 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35, set in consecutive years from 1958-92 by A.J. Foyt.
•Dan Wheldon has led 234 career laps in the Indianapolis 500, more than any other driver in this year’s field. Other drivers in the field who have led more than 200 laps are Helio Castroneves (228), Scott Dixon (220) and Tony Kanaan (214).
•Fifteen different drivers in this year’s field have led a total of 1,282 laps in previous Indianapolis 500 Mile races.
•There is a combined 125 previous Indianapolis 500 starts among the 33 drivers in this year’s field. The record is 260 years of experience, set in 1987 and 1992. There were 125 years of combined experience in last year’s field.
•The oldest driver in the starting field is Davey Hamilton, 47. The youngest qualifier is Sebastian Saavedra, 19.
•There are nine Firestone Indy Lights veterans in the field: Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Alex Lloyd, Hideki Mutoh, Raphael Matos, Graham Rahal, Mario Romancini and Sebastian Saavedra.
•Tony Kanaan is starting 32nd. His previous worst starting position in eight previous starts was sixth, in 2008 and 2009.
•Rookie Takuma Sato will be the fifth driver to race in the Indianapolis 500 and United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Formula One race, joining Jacques Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tomas Enge and Justin Wilson. Sato competed in the USGP in 2004, 2004, 2006 and 2007, with a best finish of third in 2004.
•Mario Romancini is the fastest rookie qualifier for the Indianapolis 500, with a four-lap average of 224.641 mph.
Quick quote from Indianapolis 500 veteran Bryan Herta, who owns the car of #29 Sebastian Saavedra, who ended qualifying on the bubble and in the Indianapolis 500 starting field.
BRYAN HERTA: “It’s the most amazing turn of events. I don’t think there’s ever been drama in Bump Day qualifying like this, at least when I’ve been involved. My partner, Steve Newey, and I put so much on the line with this little team to try to come out here and qualify with a rookie driver and a bunch of guys that are just amazing mechanics. You don’t know what this meant to our team because we put everything on the line to make this race.”
Drivers in qualifying line when qualifying ended (in order): #15 Tracy, #41 Lazier, #36 Baguette, #18 Duno, #23 Scheckter, #66 Howard.
Medical update from Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Indianapolis Motor Speedway director of medical services: An MRI of the back of #29 Sebastian Saavedra was negative. He is cleared to drive.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (after being cleared to drive this evening): “I had a sharp pain my upper back, but the MRI came back clean. I’ll have a big bruise, but it’s all good.” (About making race): “It’s wonderful for me and my country (Colombia). I’m still trying to process it. I want to thank Bryan Herta Autosport and William Rast for believing in me and making my dream come true.”
There is no track activity scheduled for Monday, May 24 through Wednesday, May 26. The next track activity is Firestone Freedom 100 practice and qualifying Thursday, May 27.
500 Festival Community Day is Wednesday, May 26, featuring a variety of family-friendly activities from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., including an autograph session with the starting field for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
Admission is $7, with children 6 and under free.
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues May 30 with the 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at noon (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway The race will air live on VERSUS.