Bump Day notebook: Foyt's drivers on form

Team owner AJ Foyt decided to get his Bump Day qualification attempts out of the way early on Sunday when Eliseo Salazar and Donnie Beechler easily made the field.

Bump Day notebook: Foyt's drivers on form

Salazar, who was a prime contender for the front two rows in last week's qualifications until suffering two engine failures, made the race with a four-lap average of 223.740 miles per hour. That bumped Roberto Guerrero out of next Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

Donnie Beechler put a third Foyt entry into the Indy 500 when he recorded the fifth fastest speed overall in qualifications at 224.449 mph. That knocked Tyce Carlson out of the race.

"I told both of my drivers, you are running plenty fast in practice," Foyt said. "Both of them had more to go if they had to go. The biggest thing I was talking to them about this morning was I gave them a couple of hot laps. I asked if we could go a high 221 or 222 and they said, 'God, we're idling.'

"I normally do more to the cars today to get more speed, but it was too much of a gamble today. We need to get in so everything is fine."

Foyt was able to give short-track racer Beechler an opportunity to run at Indy after the USAC midget and sprint car driver finished sixth in last year's IRL standings for Cahill Racing.

"I didn't even think I was going to drive here, I just came here looking to see if I could find something," Beechler said. "AJ (Foyt) came along and never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be standing here talking to you. Last year I was in the top six in points at the end of the season, but that's not always enough to carry you"

Salazar was able overcome last weekend's problems to qualify safely into the field on Sunday.

"I don't want to lie. I was really worried," Salazar said. "This must be the 21st century version of Chinese torture. Last year we had the fastest lap and put it on the front row. This time I was saying on the back straightway, 'Two more corners to go,' Then, 'One more corner.' I was a little bit spooked.

"It's going to be different to start so far back, but I don't agree with people who say it can't be done. We had the speed. I knew we had the speed, but last week we blew it in the last corner. We have the speed. We have the team. I believe I have the talent to win the race. It's just a matter of patience."



Raul Boesel qualified into the Indianapolis 500 field with a four-lap average of 221.879 mph on Sunday to put a third Treadway-Hubbard entry into the race. However, rookie Felipe Giaffone was later bumped out of the field.

Giaffone is a rookie who brought Brazilian cigarette company Hollywood to the team as a sponsor. He is also fifth in Indy Racing League points. According to team owner Fred Treadway, the team will pull Boesel out of the race car and assign it to Giaffone, which means it would have to start last in the 33-car starting field.



Just one day after leaving Dick Simon Racing, Stephan Gregoire achieved redemption by putting a second Heritage Motorsports car into the field with a four-lap average of 222.888 mph in the car's final qualification attempt.

"It's such a relief," Gregoire said. "I've been worried all month. Was it the car? Was it me? Dick Simon has always been fast, especially with me. Now I'm back alive again. I was losing my confidence. Derek Daly told me, 'You need to believe in yourself, especially when driving a race car.'

"Last year, I was very nervous, but I felt more pressure now than since before I missed it. Since we've been here, we've been having problems all month. I've been questioning myself. I never have questioned my driving before. I could see the speed on my dash, and I thought, 'Well, keep doing it.' It's hard to explain everything I went through this month, but I will sleep well tonight."



Among the last day deals in an attempt to make the race on the final day of qualifications, Richie Hearn took over for the injured Tyce Carlson at Tri-Star Motorsports, team owner Tom Kelley sold a car to Lee Brayton to get Memo Gidley into the race and Casey Mears left Galles Racing to join Walker Racing in an attempt to put Sarah Fisher's backup car into the field.

None of these drivers made the race.

"I'm more disappointed for these guys," Hearn said. "Their driver got hurt, and they put me in the car to try to get in the race. We had only one day of practice, and today we had an engine problem, which cut into our practice time. I'm glad we didn't just suck. We came close, and it wasn't meant to be, but we proved that we could do it. I'm glad I tried. I'd rather try and fail than not try at all. It just wasn't our day, next year."



Steven Tyler, lead singer for the legendary rock band Aerosmith, will sing the national anthem during pre-race ceremonies for the 85th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on Sunday, May 27. Tyler will perform the anthem in front of a sell-out crowd of 400,000 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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