We have a Field of 33, and much to the relief of Dreyer & Reinbold co-owner Robbie Buhl it currently includes all four of his drivers, three of whom had to qualify on Saturday. But today is Sunday - "Bump Day" - where dreams and bankrolls are shattered in an instant, and unfortunately for D&R they've got two of the bottom three drivers ready to be ousted.
Position 33 is Nelson Philippe. He's the man on the bubble, and might I add on a personal note he has the most hideous car I've seen in quite a while. I like the neon paint schemes, just not ones that looks like a Dodge Neon. Not only does the main with Arie Luyendyk's old hairdo have but a mere 218.032 mph four-lap average, but he also used the word "scared" roughly 417 times in a post-qualification interview. Nelson is not exactly exuding confidence right now, and since he's the "eco-driver" he may be thinking about reducing his carbon footprint altogether by simply not qualifying for the race on May 24th.
Position 32 is Milka Duno. Ashley Judd is not her biggest fan, and is probably shocked and appalled at Milka's 218.040 mph average, which as you can see is not much beyond that of Mr Philippe. Judging from the fact that she rarely uses much of the track when exiting turns, perhaps even her crew will soon be echoing Danica Patrick's disclaimer "It's not my fault that you're slow."
Position 31 is John Andretti Like Milka, he too drives a D&R entry, although John has proven before that he knows how to drive at Indy. Perhaps his problem has nothing to do with speed or skill: it's the paint scheme. Eddie Cheever has said IMS is "a living, breathing organism", and considering how much trouble John has had trying to qualify that Richard Petty lookalike I'm beginning to think the organism doesn't much care to have some wannabe stock car entry racing on Memorial Day weekend. Expect to see his 219.442 mph average close to the cutoff.
Meanwhile on the outside looking in we have three completely different drivers. First, Buddy Lazier has won at this race and is the only driver to have qualified here each of the last 14 years. Of course, his current Hemelgarn-Johnson one-off entry is only slightly faster that Ganassi wagon that was pictured here a few days ago.
Bruno Junqueira has plenty of experience, and even started from the pole for Chip Ganassi backing in '02. Of course his experience this year is NOTHING, as he hasn't even turned a lap in his last-minute Conquest Racing entry. We'll see if he can cram a month's worth of practice into a single pressure-packed day.
And lastly is Stanton Barrett, who has been so unable to reach a competitive speed that he's had vultures all over his garage. Let's let the braintrust at TSO explain.
We asked (crew chief) Owen Snyder after qualifying if the team had thought about putting another driver in for a few laps, to which Owen replied "We've had drivers hanging around for two weeks!". At which point Owen looked into his garage to find Jaques Lazier standing in front of him. By the look on Owen's face, we're going to guess it a) wasn't the best time for Jaques to be there, and/or b) it wasn't Jaques first visit.Alright, lady and gentlemen. As Mills Lane often said, "Let's get it on!!!!"