Indy Field Fills With 33; Roth On Bump Day Bubble At 215

Saturday, May 17, 2008

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"Comfortable" and "potential" aren't necessarily synonymous at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But on an unsettling qualifications day for the 92nd Indianapolis 500, both observations were appropriate.

Twenty-two spots available on Third Day Qualifications were filled Saturday, May 17, with Marty Roth's No. 25 Honda-powered Dallara claiming the 33rd slot with Bump Day looming. Townsend Bell, driving the No. 99 Dreyer & Reinbold William Rast Racing car, put together a four-lap run that secured the 12th starting position.

"We always say we just want to be comfortably in the show, but when you get out there it's one less car you have to pass if you can get a good run in," said Bell, who started 15th in his only other "500," in 2006.

Three separate incidents during practice time involving the non-qualified cars of Mario Dominguez, Max Papis and Phil Giebler could impact Bump Day, Sunday, May 18. The cars of the former are expected to be repaired for on-track activity. Giebler was admitted to Methodist Hospital because of bruised lungs suffered when the No. 88 Gardner Trucking car for American Dream Motorsports made contact with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier with 90 minutes left in the six-hour session.

Bell's average of 222.539 mph (2 minutes, 41.7693 seconds) on a wind-swept 2.5-mile oval edged IndyCar Series rookie Graham Rahal (222.531; 2:41.7753) for the outside of Row 4 - the highest position available on the day.

"I didn't realize it was that close to Graham," Bell said. "He had a big first lap then slowed down a lot. We had a decent first lap then slowed down a little."

Rahal, whose crew was in the garage until 2:30 a.m. repairing the car that white-walled Turn 4 in practice May 16, agreed. He scrubbed 1.3 mph between the first and second laps.

"We're pretty happy with the qualifying run," said Rahal, driver of the No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing car. "The wind has been incredible the last couple of days. And on those four (qualifying) laps, I couldn't be flat on any of them in Turn 2 because of the wind. Obviously, I think the car has a lot of potential. I didn't get the last bit out of it, but that's just wind-related. We're happy we're in, and that's what counts.

"We wanted to be among the fastest today, and I think we've done that."

Also showing potential were Darren Manning in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing car, which will start 14th (222.433) and 2002 pole-sitter Bruno Junqueira, who will complete Row 5 (222.267) in the No. 19 Z-Line Designs for Dale Coyne Racing. Rahal's teammate, Justin Wilson (222.267), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Buddy Rice (222.101) and Vision Racing's Davey Hamilton (222.017) will be on Row 6.

"It feels great to get the McDonald's car into the race, but I know it had so much more in it," Wilson said. "In three out of the four laps, I had to lift in Turn 2. I just couldn't get the car to turn. I felt like we had a lot more speed but just couldn't get it out on that run.

"Both myself and Graham are used to running at the front, but we're here learning. We've come from a long way behind, and if we can finish in the top 10 it would be like a victory for us considering where we started a few months ago."

Alex Lloyd, the 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion, will start 19th (221.788) in the No. 16 WiiFit car for Rahal Letterman Racing with Chip Ganassi. Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 17 Team Ethanol car (221.579), and Roth Racing's John Andretti (221.550) will join Lloyd on Row 7.

"I'd like to say that I'm happy just to get in the field, but I really want to be out here battling up front," Hunter-Reay said. "But the way things seem to go this year is that we practice and qualify about where we are now, and we have a great race car and we are able to slice through the field. If that holds true here, we are in a pretty good spot. It's 500 miles; a lot can happen."

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Indy 500 tickets on sale: Tickets are on sale for the 2008 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25, the 92nd running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Monday-Sunday during May, with special hours of 6 a.m.-1 p.m. on Race Day, Sunday, May 25. Online orders can be made at any time. Race Day ticket prices start at just $20.