Wednesday notebook: Preparing for the Bump

After a two-day break, practice resumed for the 85th Indianapolis 500 on Wednesday, but some of the teams attempting to get into the 33-car starting line-up struggled to reach 219 miles per hour.

Wednesday notebook: Preparing for the Bump

It is expected that any speed under 221mph will be too slow to make the field for the May 27 race.

Billy Boat was the fastest non-qualified driver with a speed of 219.203mph in a Dallara-Oldsmobile Aurora. Boat will attempt to make the field on Sunday's Bump Day - the final round of qualifiying. There are 32 cars already qualified for the race and once the field reaches 33, the bumping process begins, where the car with the slowest four-lap average is on the bubble. If another driver can surpass that four-lap speed, they make the race while the other car is knocked out of the field.

"We know we need a couple more miles an hour to make the race," Boat said. "What we're looking for is consistency with our laps. We've been struggling with a mid- to corner-exit understeer. You can't qualify here if you're lifting off the throttle."

Boat is hoping to avoid the drama of his qualifying effort last year, in which he entered the track less than one minute before Bump Day qualifying ended and earned a spot in the field.

"This is the Indy 500," Boat said. "There are no guarantees here. Until you are really qualified for this field when the gun goes off on Sunday to end qualifying, it's hard to be really sure if you're in the back six or eight, that you can be there. I'm hoping we can run a solid 222. That's our goal."

Greg Ray posted the two fastest speeds during practice. Ray, who qualified second on Pole Day on Saturday had the fast speed of 222.266mph in a Dallara-Oldsmobile. He posted the second-fastest speed, 221.085, in the last hour of practice in his back-up car.

"We worked hard on race set-up, running with full tanks," Ray said. "We're looking for more balance in muggy, thick air like we had today. It makes the car a lot different in this type of air."

Shigeaki Hattori was the second-fastest driver at 220.639mph in a G Force-Oldsmobile, followed by 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series Rookie of the Year Airton Dare at 220.369.

Scott Goodyear drove the most number of laps, 50, of the Infiniti drivers. He was eighth fastest with a 218.312mph. Goodyear will start 16th on race day.

"We spent the day finding a comfortable race pace with fuel," Goodyear said. "We're checking the balance of the car and identified areas to work on over the next couple of days. As the week wears on we'll try to run in traffic and get a better handle on the car. We'll see how the week progresses."



One of the drivers hoping to make the field is Eliseo Salazar, who was a contender to start on the front row before two blown engines and two crashes ended his chances of qualifying last weekend.

Salazar and his partner, Kari, are celebrating the birth of their first son, Eliseo Salazar VI, early on Tuesday morning at South Miami Hospital in Miami, Florida.

"I sound like all new parents, but he's beautiful," said Salazar, who flew to Miami from Indy on Monday morning. "I was hoping he would be born on the 14th, which is my birth date (in November) and favourite number, but AJ was teasing me that his birth date is the 16th (in January), and that should be the day. I guess my son didn't want to take sides, so he's between us both."

Salazar returned to Indy on Wednesday evening to drive the Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara-Oldsmobile cars in practice today (Thursday). Foyt will have two cars available for Salazar, who will attempt to qualify for his sixth Indianapolis 500 this Sunday.

"Most new fathers hand out cigars," Salazar said. "But I have something bigger in mind. On May 27, I hope to give my son a sip of the winner's milk from this year's Indy 500."

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