Bump Day For The 2007 Indy 500

May 20 – Speedway, IN – Hurray up and wait. It is a ritual of Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you’re the driver or team on the bubble, it can be a long, grueling day.

Under sunny skies and temperatures touching 81 degrees produced near-perfect weather conditions for the hardcore fans that assembled for Bump Day. Veteran ?500? driver, Richie Hearn got things started shortly after noon local time. Hearn, who got into the #91 Hemelgarn/Racing Professionals Dallara-Honda for the first time on Bump Day, had a four-lap average of 219.860mph to complete the 33-car field. It was Hearn’s first time in a race since last year’s Indy 500. Hearn remarked after qualifying, “You go from not sure what you have to anxiously getting in the car to getting in the field in a short span. I’m very relieved. The car was solid. I’m going to hopefully go out there and work on race setup. I trust the car is going to be good, and hopefully we have a solid race next week.” (About how this weekend typifies his career): “Unfortunately, you speak the truth. I’m really trying to get back full time. It’s not like I choose to do this one race a year. It’s very tough to find a ride. Hopefully I can have a good run next week and get something for next year.” (How did the effort come together between Racing Professionals and Hemelgarn Racing?): “I know Ron (Hemelgarn) loved this place, but he sold all his cars to Racing Professionals and Jon Herb. I think he decided he wanted to do it again. He leased this car back from Jon, but unfortunately Jon had an accident last week so they had to put it together…” Before Hearn?s qualifying run longtime Hemelgarn team manager Lee Kunzman joked: “Send money. My wife can’t go shopping, and my kids don’t have any school clothes. It’s all in racing. I actually don’t have a wife or kids, but they don’t have to know that.”

The feel good story of the weekend was rookie, Phil Giebler. Giebler was in the race easily yesterday when he had a high 221-average going into the last lap of his four lap qualifying run. However the car pushed going into turn two and the car heavily pancaked the wall with the right-side and spun making contact with the inside barrier with the right-rear of the car. The crew worked overtime repairing the car, Mark Weida team engineer commented, “As far as the damage we were very lucky. It was surprisingly light. We didn’t break the gearbox. We did break the engine (and three corners of the suspension). It was hard enough that it cracked the engine. The majority of the bodywork was in good shape, which is what takes a long time to fit as far as doing repairs. The bolt-on stuff is pretty quick.” Giebler went out to qualify at 3:42pm local time. The Playa Del Racing Panoz breezed through the first lap at 220.206, second lap of 219.921, third lap of 219.256 and then fourth lap of 219.167 (219.637 average) easily bumping third-day qualifier Jimmy Kite. Giebler commented on the team and the effort they put in repairing the car last night, “They worked real hard and never got discouraged. They stayed as late as they needed to, got there as early as they needed to. They gave me a good car today. It felt great. I’m really happy for them, more than anything. These guys are awesome. They pulled me up from the Indy Pro Series, and they believe in me and I believe in them. It’s a good match. It really shows what the team is made of and even the other teams that helped out with parts and stuff like that, it means a lot to me. I didn’t want to disappoint them.” (About how late the team stayed to work on the car): “They were working, I think, until 1 a.m. I think they were here when the garage opened (this morning). Basically, they had to tear the whole car apart, check every nut and bolt. The engine was broken, so we had to pull the engine out and basically tear apart the whole car and rebuild it.”

After Kite was bumped, veteran Roberto Moreno and the Chastain Motorsports entry found themselves on the bubble. The team decided to withdraw their time and ended up requalifying at a faster time placing Marty Roth on the bubble. Moreno discussed the decision to requalify the car on Sunday, “Basically yesterday, I asked to change the car. We were going in direction quite good. Then we changed the car and got a bit lost. Then people started to get in line (for qualifying). We didn’t have time to trim and fix the car. So we decided to try and qualify with the car as it was. Just in case it decided to rain (Sunday). What if it were to rain tomorrow? The car was really difficult to drive yesterday. We had lots of wing, and it was still difficult to drive. Today, we went back to what we had initially yesterday. We worked on that. My engineer did a great job.”

The hard-luck story of the weekend besides PDM was the Team Leader operation headed by Kent Baker with driver, P.J. Jones. The team whose Dallara was painted to match P.J.?s father?s 1967 STP Turbine was a fan-favorite. Their problems were traced to the set-up scales they were using which were 40 lbs off throwing the baseline set-up off. PJ Jones and team owner Kent Baker ran out of time and made the decision not to make a qualification attempt in the #40 Direct Diversified Team Leader Special. Jones commented, “Ah, it’s very difficult. You know, you struggle, obviously, trying to make that decision. For us, when I just went through Turn 2 and almost knocked the fence down, you know, you’ve got to think. You don’t want to destroy a car and possibly hurt yourself. It wasn’t like we were running 218s and nipping at the 219 barrier where I would have hung it out a lot more. It was more, ‘We’re sittin’, we’re struggling.’ Most guys right now, with the wing configuration, they should be able to run 220. And we haven’t seen that. I’ve been flat out. I’ve been in all different configurations and we found a lot of problems this week we had. We’ve been limited on motor mileage today, and that’s hurt us, big time. It just wasn’t in the cards. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s better than wrecking a car.” Car-owner Baker added, ?The decision, Honda did give us a couple of extra laps. They told me after the first run we went out and ran a tough 214. They said, ‘We’ll give you three more laps to figure it out.’ I’m not going to send PJ out on a banzai run. You know, you can’t carry the car here 5, 6 mile per hour. It’s just not happening. It’s not going to happen. It’s not practical. You know, everybody wanted to run. And PJ, he just didn’t have confidence in the car, and I made the call. At some point, it’s a decision somebody’s got to make, and I made it.”

Shortly before 6pm, the PDM team and driver Jimmy Kite tried one last time to bump their way back into the field. Even with a portion of the crown chanting, “PDM, PDM…” after the first lap it was obvious they weren’t close. Kite commented after his run, “We had the car trimmed out as much as we could trim it out. We figured we had plenty left in it yesterday. We would trim it out, and we would gain speed. That was about as free as that car is going to be. It didn’t seem to like going down the straightaway. I hate it for everybody. Jim and Z-Line Design came on thinking we’d be here next Sunday. We expected to be there, too. It sucks having to watch the race on TV.” Paul Diatlovich who mortgaged his house to partially fund the team commented, “I just probably wasted the talent of one of the finest drivers to come here. Our car wasn’t up to speed.” (About the investment he made to make the race): “We’ll find out when the dust settles. It’s long. It’s tough. It’s expensive. We didn’t make it. We’ll have a garage sale.” (About the difficulty of qualifying): “This place isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. This place starts the 33 fastest, best-prepared cars. Obviously, I missed. I have to give credit to the crew. They persevered. They worked for this. We crashed, and we came back. They never missed a beat. The car was mechanically excellent. We didn’t have the right setup. That’s my error. My fault. It was a waste of the talent of Jimmy Kite.”

For every team bumped, the one that survives being on the bubble is relieved to make it in. This year it was the Marty Roth team, driver-car owner Roth commented shortly after the final gun sounded, “It’s great that it’s one minute after six. I’ve been waiting a long time for that. It’s been a long day. Unfortunately, we had a lousy qualifying, and that’s the price you pay. You end up taking your turn on the bubble, and it’s a very uncomfortable situation. We had a really good car. We were 221’s all day long. We’re just debating if we were going to stick it in and re-qualify it, or ‘No, no. Don’t worry about it.’ It was quite the drama in our pits today. We’re just glad it’s over, and we’re glad to be in the show.”

Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti will lead the 33-car field next Sunday, May 27th for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500.

INDIANAPOLIS – Qualifying Sunday for the 91st Indianapolis 500 IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:

1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 225.817
2. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 225.757
3. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 225.191

4. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 225.122
5. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 225.109
6. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 224.641

7. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 224.410
8. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 224.076
9. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 223.299

10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 222.877
11. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 222.789
12. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 223.875

13. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 223.693
14. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 223.495
15. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 223.471

16. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 222.826
17. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 222.595

18. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 222.413

19. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 222.333
20. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 222.327

21. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 221.960

22. (99) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 221.380
23. (24) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 222.654
24. (33) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 221.756

25. (50) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Honda, 220.876
26. (98) Alex Barron, Dallara-Honda, 220.471
27. (19) Jon Herb, Dallara-Honda, 220.108

28. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz-Honda, 219.409
29. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 219.228
30. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 218.922

31. (77) Roberto Moreno, Panoz-Honda, 220.299
32. (91) Richie Hearn, Dallara-Honda, 219.860
33. (31) Phil Giebler, Panoz-Honda, 219.637

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