Robert Doornbos. [Russ Lake Photo]
Dutchman Doornbos Leads Third Day Qualifiers At Indy
by John Atlas
SPEEDWAY, IN: Dutch rookie Robert Doornbos overcame a pair of crashes last week to grab the best starting position available Saturday for the 2009 Indy 500. Doornbos, with a little coaching help from his countryman:two time Speedway winner and Hall of Famer Arie Luyendyk, posted a solid four lap average of 221.692 MPH.
As the rain-shortened day ended, the 33 car field was complete. A good weather forecast for Sunday should result in a full day available for bumping.
The eleven drivers that completed the field Saturday:
23 Robert Doornbos 06T 221.692
24 Townsend Bell 8 221.195
25 Oriol Servia 17 220.984
26 Alex Tagliani 34T 220.553
27 Tomas Scheckter 19 220.212
28 Mike Conway 24 220.124
29 EJ Viso 13 219.971
30 Ryan Hunter-Reay 21T 219.502
31 John Andretti 43 219.442
32 Milka Duno 23 218.040
33 Nelson Philippe 00 218.032
At this point, it appears that three car/driver combinations will lead the attack to bump their way into the 2009 starting lineup. Former winner Buddy Lazier, who was ousted from the field at the last moment Saturday, will lead the charge to re-enter the line-up on Sunday. Lazier is joined on the outside looking in by former Pole winner Bruno Junqueira, who was assigned to pilot the #36 Conquest Racing entry only two days ago, and the rapidly improving rookie Stanton Barrett, who seems to have a realistic chance to find the required speed. Other car/driver combinations are always last minute possibilities but, at this point, none seem to be forthcoming.
Following his successful run, Robert Doornbos was asked to comment on his "roller-coaster ride" this month at the Speedway:
"I can't say it's been a boring month. It started off good. I arrived here with Arie (Luyendyk), and inspecting the track, he scared me to death in the Pace Car ride. And then I got going in my IndyCar, and I was really quick the first day and the next day, as well. I think we got a little bit too excited because Arie said I probably didn't need him anymore, and then we took off too much downforce and we crashed. We had no spare parts, so I missed the first two qualifying days, and then there is a lot of pressure on these four laps to make the show. The race car is good, but if you're not in the show, you don't need the race car. I am very happy and proud to be here now. In Kansas, (qualifying) was easier. I qualified second. Here it's such a long track, and with the wind picking up, you feel like every lap is a new adventure. Every corner is an adventure because the wind is coming from different angles. It's a tough four laps, but I'm very proud to do
them on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
A total of 48 cars are currently at the Speedway and have passed technical inspection. Thirty-five drivers have been on the track to date and turned 743 laps today and 10,343 laps this month. Helio Castroneves turned 55 laps, the most laps today, while Raphael Matos has turned 559 laps this month, most of any driver. There were three cautions today for a total of 24 minutes. Rain delayed the start of qualifying by 3 hours, 31 minutes.
And now, we're down to one day. Bump Day...