IRL, Indy 500: Buhl Beats Rain to Qualify; Field Set
24 May 1999INDIANAPOLIS - Robbie Buhl put a dramatic end to Bubble Day qualifications for the 83rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, putting the #84 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear in the field on the final attempt of the day before heavy rain showers washed out further track activity.
Buhl finished his attempt at 2:03 p.m. (EST) with a four-lap average speed of 221.197 mph - good for the 32nd spot in the 33-car field -- as light rain fell. Heavy rain then started, and no cars made any attempts before the track was closed and field was set at 4:30 p.m.
Coors Carburetion Day - the final practice before the race - is Thursday, May 27. Race Day is Sunday, May 30. Arie Luyendyk will start from the pole.
The final attempt ended a weekend of hectic activity for Buhl. He crashed during the warmup lap on his first qualification attempt Saturday in the #44 Dreyer & Reinbold-Purex-Dallara-Infiniti Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Then in his first attempt today, at 12:10 p.m., the engine expired in his backup car.
So Buhl and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt made a last-minute deal. Buhl climbed into Foyt's #84 entry, feverishly cobbled together from parts from the #11 and #14T entries of regular Foyt drivers Billy Boat and Kenny Brack, before the rain arrived.
"I had a good race car," Buhl said of his Dreyer & Reinbold entry. "I had one all week. I made a mistake yesterday in Turn 1 and wound up in the fence. Today, what I had to do was look in A.J.'s eyes, and he looked in mine. I didn't have much of a choice. But he had confidence in me."
Three drivers besides Buhl qualified for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on Bubble Day: Johnny Unser, Dr. Jack Miller and Raul Boesel. Unser will start 30th after recording a four-lap qualifying average of 221.197 in the #92 Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Racing-Homier Tool/Delta Faucet Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.
Miller will start 31st after posting a four-lap qualifying average of 220.276 in the Dean's Milk Chug Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Boesel was the first qualifier Sunday and bumped Lyn St. James with a four-lap qualifying average of 220.101 in the backup Brant Racing R&S MKV Riley & Scott/Aurora/Goodyear. He will start 33rd.
Despite only seven qualifying attempts, St. James, Jaques Lazier, Stephan Gregoire, Mike Groff and Scott Harrington were bumped from the field.