A Tale Of Two Teams

Two frustrating weeks with Dick Simon’s Indy Racing Northern Light Series team at Indianapolis ended for Stephan Gregoire on Saturday, severing a longtime relationship between the young Frenchman and the veteran car owner.

Sure, Gregoire and Simon haven’t officially parted ways, but with Simon in danger of missing the Indianapolis 500, coupled with the loss of main sponsor Mexmil at the beginning of the season, the team is in danger of closing down.

Fortunately for Gregoire, Heritage Motorsports has reached out to Gregoire. The team, formed by John Mecom III and Jim Rathmann Jr., put veteran Gregoire in Jeff Ward’s backup No. 35 car, and the results came quickly for Gregoire.

In Saturday’s final full day of practice, Gregoire turned in a 217.796 mph lap in Heritage’s G Force-Aurora.

“For the first time out in the car, things were excellent,” said Gregoire, who had been with Simon’s team since the end of the 1998 season. “I got the car up to 217 to 218 mph, so I’m very excited for tomorrow. This team has proved they know what they’re doing, so I’m confident we’ll produce the results we need to get in the show.”

In Sunday morning practice he practiced at more than 223 mph, proving that with the right equipment, Gregoire can get the job done.

That’s good news for the five-time Indy 500 starter, but not for Simon. Gregoire’s ability to put together solid laps in another team’s machine only proves that Simon’s team doesn’t quite have what it takes this month.

Roberto Guerrero qualified Simon’s No. 7 Dallara-Aurora at 220.054 mph on Pole Day, but that speed is slowest of the qualified drivers. That means Guerrero will be the first driver to be bumped out by a faster car during qualifications. He can try to bump his way back into the race in the No. 7T, but the chances of that happening are not good.

Guerrero’s fastest lap in the No. 7T is 219.559 mph. That will not be fast enough to put him in his 16th Indy 500.

Guerrero and Simon are two of the most likeable people walking around Gasoline Alley, and the situation facing the two is almost heart breaking.

But, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not play favorites. Just ask Michael Andretti.

Regardless of what happens in Sunday qualifying, the month of May appears to have claimed another victim. Maybe Simon and Gregoire will both make the field, but they won’t do it together.

That’s sad.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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