Try Try Again

Marlboro Team Penske principals and driver Sam Hornish Jr. thought there was more speed in the No. 6 Toyota-powered Dallara after their initial qualifying run produced 10th place in the field for the 89th Indianapolis 500.

So, under the new qualifying format that affords each car three attempts per day, the team withdrew the time and put it back in the qualifying line at 3:20 p.m. (local time). It was a gutsy move, but team owner Roger Penske hasn’t won 13 500-Mile Races by being timid.

The decision turned worked in Hornish’s favor as he was able to put together a four-lap average of 227.273 mph – good for the middle of the front row. The time (2 minutes, 38.3997 seconds) stood the remainder of the session.

The two-time IndyCar Series champion, who was coming off a pole start in the Indy Japan 300 on April 30, secured his highest starting spot in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in six attempts. His previous best start was seventh in 2002.

“We were just looking at it,” said Hornish, third in the IndyCar Series standings. “We were like, ‘If we can get up to 226.5 mph average, that is going to move us up to, I think at that time, it was inside the top six or fifth.’ That is a big amount for what we had to gain. We had a lot to gain, and we only had a little bit of time that we really needed to get up there. It was a lot of reward that we had to get and not much as far as risk.

“After our first run, we were like, ‘We may be out there running again.’ We wanted to make sure that it was not raining. It actually brightened up for a little bit. We were like, ‘Hey, this is going to be good for us, we’re going to get out there and get some practice in.’ The guys just did an awesome job getting the car turned around and everything.”

Lazier looking forward to Race Day

Buddy Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, led Chevrolet-powered cars with a Row 3 starting spot in the No. 95 Panther/Jonathan Byrd’s/ESPN 950 AM Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone.

The qualifying run (226.353 mph four-lap average) was significant given Lazier’s lack of seat time. He hadn’t competed in an IndyCar Series car since finishing 23rd in the 500-Mile Race in 2004.

“For the conditions, it was a good run,” said Lazier, the 2000 IndyCar Series champion. “I hate to get greedy, but I wanted a little bit more. The conditions really have a lot to do with it. This is really a rocket ship of a race car. We have a great engineer, Andy Brown, and a great race team. Come Race Day, I think were going to be tough.

“I just love this place. I love Indy(-style) car racing. The big payday is just two weeks away, and we’re doing a lot of work this week in practice for Race Day. It’s all about the 500 miles. But the pole is pretty exciting, too.”

Bumping on the first day

A recap of the bumping during the first day of qualifying. Alex Barron's second qualifying attempt (221.053 mph) netted him the 22nd and final starting spot available. The next round of qualifying (positions 23-33) is May 21.

-- Barron (219.958) bumped by Dario Franchitti at 5:13 p.m.
-- Patrick Carpentier (219.999) bumped by Franchitti (in his third attempt) at 5:44 p.m.
-- Jaques L azier (220.034) bumped by Jeff Bucknum at 5:56 p.m. with the final attempt of the session.

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