Rookie RAPHAEL MATOS/No.2 Luczo Dragon Racing kept his Sunday fastest driver position, in the second day of qualifying for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 at The Brickyard. He is the top  and only Rookie yet to qualify.

The lineup for the second eleven qualified drivers:
Matos, PAUL TRACY/No.15 KV Racing Technology, VITOR MEIRA/No.14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises when he re-qualified after his original run was disallowed due to a technical infraction; JUSTIN WILSON/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing; HIDEKI MUTOH/No.27 Andretti Green Racing; ED CARPENTER/No.20 Vision Racing; DAN WHELDON/No.4 Panther Racing; A.J. FOYT IV/No.41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises; SCOTT SHARP/No.16 Panther Racing; SARAH FISHER/No.67 Sarah Fisher Racing; and DAVEY HAMILTON/No.44 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Kingdom Racing.

Viso, Hamilton and Fisher were in line at 5:59 PM EDT, but were reminded by BRIAN BARNHART,  IRL President of Competition that IRL reserved the right to request drivers to pull out of line if they weren’t planning an attempt. They pulled out, to allow Sharp to make his run. They all had already qualified in the field.

Barnhart complimented those three drivers: “The sportsmanship out there was incredible today.”

SCOTT SHARP was on track when the gun went off. It was his third try after being bumped and withdrawing a run; but it succeeded and he was twentieth of the 22 now in the field. He bumped Viso, who now will have to try again next weekend. Viso said “There was a lot of drama going on, and things obviously didn’t end up as we all wanted. But we knew that being in the 21st, 22nd position is a very vulnerable position and anything could happen. And it happened just in the last minute, and that’s a sad thing because we didn’t have time to go back out and defend ourselves.”

Sharp races in the American Le Mans Series race next weekend at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. His team has a first-week engine lease deal with Honda, but there are some miles left on the engine. Sharp hopes his team and IRL can work something out for Sharp to test somehow, between Utah and Indianapolis.

Bumped: Viso; Sharp; Andretti; Foyt IV; and MILKA DUNO/No.23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Withdrawn: Sharp; Tracy and Fisher. Also Rans: 2008 Rookie Champion, RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.21 Vision Racing; and ALEX TAGLIANI/No.34 Conquest Racing, who each attempted a run in the last ten minutes, but waved off when they realized they weren’t fast enough.

Late in the afternoon during practice between qualifying attempts, JOHN ANDRETTI/No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing spun and swirled down the track into the Turn One wall and gave it a huge whack. He was seen and released from the Clarian infield medical center, cleared to drive. However, soon after he was bumped from the Sunday’s field.

Andretti explained “We’ve been fighting the balance on the car, making changes. We were loose the time before, and I guess that was my out lap and probably got a little bit hot for the balance of the car and just lost the back end. I had a little bit of an oops this morning, too, and managed to save it, but that one jumped too far on me too quickly. I feel fine. The car took a hard beating, and that’s frustrating. The team will work on it. They’ll get it back together, and we’ll be back on next week.”

GRAHAM RAHAL/No.02 Newman Haas Lanigan Racing took a ride on the wild side to avoid hitting the wildly spinning Andretti. Rahal turned it every which way but loose to avoid hitting Andretti…and he succeeded. It certainly will make the highlights reels. While he climbed out of the car not a very happy camper, Rahal’s crew and team back in the pit lane were all smiles and clapping – Rahal didn’t crash. Later Rahal said “It was a helluva moment. My father was yelling “yellow, yellow, yellow” and I could tell by his voice that it was right in front of me. His (Andretti’s) car exploded with debris going everywhere. I locked up my brakes, causing the engine to kill, and I had to restart. The front tires were flat by then, so I couldn’t drive off. I did hit one of his tire ramps which bent my left front suspension , but it didn’t hit me in the head. I’ll happily take that. It’s better than putting the McDonald’s car in the wall.”

Rahal’s teammate, Rookie ROBERT DOORNBOS, will have a car ready to drive next Thursday. He crashed both the primary and backup car – left side on one and right side on the other.  Both tubs got damaged a bit, but nothing major, according to NHLF Chief Mechanic, MITCH DAVIS. “In the end only one car full of parts was damaged. The primary car went back to Chicago for work, and the backup car is nearby in a carbon shop getting work done. It will be ready Tuesday for Doornbos to drive next weekend.”

One reader quipped that it seemed that the drivers were trying to qualify…for Dick Clark’s Top 40 Spins, Volumes One and Two.

Panther Racing called DARREN MANNING to stand by for MIKE CONWAY, who crashed Sunday morning in practice and is in Methodist Hospital overnight for observation after suffering a bruised lung. The team already has Manning’s seats and everything, and Manning is still looking for an Indy 500 ride; but he thinks “Mike’s going to be absolutely fine.”

The teams now have three days off, before practice starting noon Thursday 14 May 2009.

Last Modified on May 10, 2009
This entry was posted in ALMS, IRL
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