Lazier Continues To Go Fast

Buddy Lazier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Andy Clary Photo]

Buddy Lazier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Andy Clary Photo]

by Joe Jennings

INDIANAPOLIS – Having won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and a Verizon IndyCar Series championship, Buddy Lazier knows what it is like to bask in the spotlight and all the glory that comes with major accomplishments. Even though his Borg-Warner and championship trophies reside in his office, he rarely, if ever, reflects on these triumphs. “When you win a race, you don’t think about it too much. You know you did your job,” Lazier said during media day.

Instead, he is haunted by the races that got away from him. “Those two second places are two examples — the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s,” he noted with sincerity. “Those runner-ups may well haunt me for life. When I won the race, I thought I’m going to be back in victory lane, but a lot of things have to fall in place for that to happen.”

Looking at his place in history, Lazier commented that the 500 has been running for 100 years and he’s been in 20 of them. And factoring in the five races he lost out of being in, he’s impressed that he’s been part of 25 per cent of them. “I take pride in that. It bothered me for a long time that for the lack of 2.7 seconds, a pit stop here and there, I could have been a three-time winner. In 2005, I had a car that could have won the race until I got tangled up with another car.”

At 49 years of age, Lazier is the oldest driver in the race and should he win out, he would become the oldest driver to do so.

Lazier recognizes the importance of sponsorship, particularly in his role of team owner, and he feels blessed that Indiana Pacers star guard Jeff Teague has stepped in with his Team Teague Factory at D1 fitness facility. Teague has built a 30,000 sq. ft. facility near the track for athletes to train and even though he knows little about racing, the basketball luminary has entered into a partnership arrangement with Lazier.

“What’s better in Indiana than basketball and racing?” asks Lazier, who is a model of fitness.

Teague’s uniform number is 44, so it only seems right that Lazier’s Chevrolet-powered car carries No. 44.

Due to a variety of issues, the Lazier team arrived late and had only nominal track time before qualifications. Of the 33 starters, Lazier’s 85 practice laps were the fewest. By comparison, F1 champion Fernando Alonso clocked 452 circuits.

Undaunted, Lazier believes his team has overcome their issues and is ready to go. “I think we should be pretty decent,” the former winner said.

Running in his 20th Indianapolis 500, Lazier knows his days are numbered but he pledges to keep going for a while, hoping to be around long enough for his son Flynn to race with him. “My wife thinks it would be of cool if the two of us raced together here, and I would enjoy that for sure,” he said.

Flynn Lazier graduates from high school this week and he will jet to Indianapolis to see his dad race. The 18-year old young man has a keen interest in racing and he’s been learning the trade near their Colorado home. Recently, the youngster made his Mazda Road to Indy debut with the Pro 2000 Series. “He did real well and we are really proud of him,” his proud father said.

For the upcoming Indianapolis 500, Lazier starts 30th and even though he’s been in the race 20 times, he said there’s still a lot of emotion leading up to the start. The Coloradoan knows he’s an underdog, but he firmly believes he’s got a car that can succeed. It is a long race, so anything is possible.

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