Schmidt amazed by Lloyd's qualifying
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, May 10th 2009, 11:35 GMT|
Team boss Sam Schmidt said the last-gasp qualifying run that gave Alex Lloyd 11th on the Indianapolis 500 grid was one of the highlights of his career.
Lloyd grabbed the final position to be allocated on Pole Day with a superb effort five minutes from the end of the six-hour session. The race will be only Lloyd's second IndyCar start, as Ganassi - which has signed him on a long-term development deal - has been unable to raise the budget to give him a full-time drive.
Schmidt, a former IndyCar race-winner who formed his team after being paralysed in a testing crash and has since claimed three Indy Lights titles, was amazed by Lloyd's performance.
"This is absolutely huge considering everything else we have going on as a team," said Schmidt, who is running Lloyd in a one-off collaboration with Ganassi.
"When you look at the people that are running full-time in this series and have monumental efforts and massive teams and everything else, we clearly need to thank Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull and that entire organisation.
"I have to say thanks to the guys for their hard efforts and all of their hours, and most importantly, we need to thank Alex because at 5m55s (to go), we asked him if he wanted to go or wanted to wait, and he absolutely, positively had his mind made up that he was going to go, and he got the job done.
"For somebody that doesn't have a full-time ride and isn't doing this week-in, week-out, it was a pretty impressive effort.
"For me personally, this is as excited as I've been in my years as a car owner at this level, and now I can't wait for race day."
Lloyd felt he could have gone even quicker.
"Qualifying was our first run, basically," he said. "It felt really good to me. We could have taken more downforce off and picked up more speed.
"I felt ready even though it was getting quite late before the gun was off. I was ready to go. That was a close one. I really just wanted to get in today. That was my main thing. I want to work on the race from now on."
Last year Lloyd qualified 19th at Indy in a one-off effort with Rahal Letterman and Ganassi, but crashed out of the race.