Moreno, Hearn, Giebler complete Indy 500 field

Monday, May 21, 2007
Race driver Phil Giebler was congratulated after he posted an average speed of 219.637mph Sunday on the final day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. (DARRON CUMMINGS ~ Associated Press)

The 33-car race will be run Sunday.

INDIANAPOLIS -- As the minutes ticked away Sunday, the final day of qualifications for next week's Indianapolis 500, Roberto Moreno and his team took stock of their situation.

With less than an hour to go until the 33-car field was set for this Sunday's race, the 48-year-old Brazilian, hoping to drive in his third 500 in 21 years, was "on the bubble," the slowest qualifier in the lineup at 216.229 mph.

Moreno said he was sure that wasn't going to be fast enough.

As he got more comfortable in his car Sunday, Moreno's practice speeds climbed and he knew it was time to get aggressive instead of waiting for a faster car to bump him.

"I saw that I achieved 220 [mph] and was solid in the car and said, `OK, guys, that's enough. Let's go for it.' "

Moreno, who got his ride in the No. 77 Chastain Motorsports car on Friday, the day after Stephan Gregoire crashed, fracturing a vertebra, was up to the challenge. His first lap was over 219.8 and the next three were all over 220, giving him an average of 220.299 -- more than 4 mph faster than the speed he posted on Saturday.

"Yesterday, we were not ready for it," Moreno said. "We played around too much with the car. I told my engineer to just make me comfortable so I could go flat around this track. I'd never done that. My cars I drove before, I never drove flat here."

Moreno joined Richie Hearn and rookie Phil Giebler as Sunday qualifiers, with Jimmy Kite, who began the day with the slowest speed (214.528) among the 32 drivers already in the lineup, the only driver bumped out.

Hearn's deal was even more last-minute than Moreno's.

Hearn, whose last of six previous Indy starts was in 2005, signed Saturday with longtime IndyCar team owner Ron Hemelgarn and co-owner-driver Jon Herb, then had to wait as the Hemelgarn/Racing Professionals team put together Herb's backup car for him.

The No. 91 Dallara, with no sponsorship on the sidepods, made it out to the pit lane late on Saturday, but Hearn never made it onto the 2.5-mile Indy oval until Sunday morning.

Hearn, who finished third here as a rookie in 1996 and sixth in 2002, quickly got the car up to speed in practice. He then filled the 33rd spot in the field with about three hours remaining on the last of four days of time trials for the 91st 500-mile race, posting a speed of 219.860.

"There wasn't really a lot of rides available without bringing money," Hearn said. "I tried, but I couldn't put anything together until I talked with Ron and John. They had some offers from guys with money, but they put their trust in me."


Indy 500 LINEUP

After Sunday's qualifying; Race Sunday, May 27; At Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Indianapolis; Lap length: 2.5 miles

(Car numbers in parentheses; all engines Honda; w-former winner; r-rookie)

ROW 1

1. (3) w-Helio Castroneves, Dallara, 225.817 mph

2. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara, 225.757

3. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara, 225.191

ROW 2

4. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara, 225.122

5. (6) w-Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara, 225.109

6. (10) w-Dan Wheldon, Dallara, 224.641

ROW 3

7. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara, 224.410

8. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara, 224.076

9. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara, 223.299

ROW 4

10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara, 222.877

11. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara, 222.789

12. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara, 223.875

ROW 5

13. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara, 223.693

14. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara, 223.495

15. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara, 223.471

ROW 6

16. (15) w-Buddy Rice, Dallara, 222.826

17. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara, 222.595

18. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara, 222.413

ROW 7

19. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara, 222.333

20. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara, 222.327

21. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara, 221.960

ROW 8

22. (99) w-Buddy Lazier, Dallara, 221.380

23. (24) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara, 222.654

24. (33) John Andretti, Dallara, 221.756

ROW 9

25. (50) w-Al Unser Jr., Dallara, 220.876

26. (98) Alex Barron, Dallara, 220.471

27. (19) Jon Herb, Dallara, 220.108

ROW 10

28. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz, 219.409

29. (23) r-Milka Duno, Dallara, 219.228

30. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara, 218.922

ROW 11

31. (77) Roberto Moreno, Panoz, 220.299

32. (91) Richie Hearn, Dallara, 219.860

33. (31) r-Phil Giebler, Panoz, 219.637

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