Moreno, Hearn, Giebler complete Indy 500 field
Monday, May 21, 2007
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)
1. (3) w-Helio Castroneves, Dallara, 225.817 mph
2. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara, 225.757
3. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara, 225.191
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara, 225.122
5. (6) w-Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara, 225.109
6. (10) w-Dan Wheldon, Dallara, 224.641
7. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara, 224.410
8. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara, 224.076
9. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara, 223.299
10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara, 222.877
11. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara, 222.789
12. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara, 223.875
13. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara, 223.693
14. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara, 223.495
15. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara, 223.471
16. (15) w-Buddy Rice, Dallara, 222.826
17. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara, 222.595
18. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara, 222.413
19. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara, 222.333
20. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara, 222.327
21. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara, 221.960
22. (99) w-Buddy Lazier, Dallara, 221.380
23. (24) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara, 222.654
24. (33) John Andretti, Dallara, 221.756
25. (50) w-Al Unser Jr., Dallara, 220.876
26. (98) Alex Barron, Dallara, 220.471
27. (19) Jon Herb, Dallara, 220.108
28. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz, 219.409
29. (23) r-Milka Duno, Dallara, 219.228
30. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara, 218.922
31. (77) Roberto Moreno, Panoz, 220.299
32. (91) Richie Hearn, Dallara, 219.860
33. (31) r-Phil Giebler, Panoz, 219.637