AP Photo/Tom Strattman
Mario Dominguez was just one of the drivers to give his team some extra work on Saturday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Mario Dominguez
and Max Papis
, should they bump their way into the field for the 92nd Indianapolis 500, will owe their respective crews a few extra cold ones. On Saturday, they turned a qualifying day into a full day of work on Gasoline Alley.
Dominguez, of Pacific Coast Motorsports, drove below the white line in Turn 1 and made light contact with the SAFER barrier at just before 11 a.m. Five minutes after the track went green following that crash, Papis and his Rubicon Race Team had the unluckiest of incidents, hitting hard into the Turn 3 wall just as the checkered flag flew, signaling the end of the one-hour morning practice.
Come Bump Day on Sunday (ABC, 1-3 p.m. ET; ESPN2, 4-6:30 p.m. ET)
, they'll be driving rebuilt cars. Dominguez's repairs were finished late Saturday, while Papis' car remained under construction.
"This was an unbelievable effort by my crew," said Dominguez, a longtime Champ Car driver and Indy 500 rookie. "We didn't run, but we proved we are survivors and we will be back tomorrow and find our spot in the show."
Papis added, "I have a lot of confidence with my guys, they are coming up with a solution and we'll see what happens."
If they make a qualifying attempt, they'll go one step further than Phil Giebler
. He also crashed Saturday, in his first day of work in the late-developing American Dream Motorsports Panoz-Honda, the only Panoz in the field.
Giebler, the 2007 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, was trying to quickly work up to speed with an hour and a half left, turning his fastest practice lap at 218.336 mph when he spun into the Turn 1 wall. Giebler was admitted to Methodist Hospital with bruised lungs and the team was fighting a long-shot battle to piece together a car in time for Jaques Lazier
to try to qualify Sunday.
With the American Dream team likely out, three drivers remain with chances to bump their way into the 500 field and get a shot at the $50,000 prize awarded to the 33rd qualifier: Dominguez, Papis and, surprisingly, A.J. Foyt IV
Foyt, a four-time 500 starter with a high finish of 14th in 2007, shouldn't be in any real trouble to make the field. His top speed of the month, 223.652 mph on the morning of Pole Day, is 20th in the field.
Saturday he ran 220.972 mph on the first lap of a qualifying attempt, but he encountered loose handling on the second lap and waved off the attempt. A second attempt later in the day was axed before his out-lap was completed.
All Foyt needs to do Sunday is run faster than 215.506 mph, the time Marty Roth
turned in late Saturday to claim the 33rd spot. Roth, like all other drivers on a qualifying day, would get three attempts to bump his way back into the field.
"I've been on the bubble before. I'm no stranger to it," said Roth, who crashed during the 2006 Bump Day. "I'm sure it is going to be an exciting day tomorrow as long as the weather stays nice."
That, for once this month, doesn't appear to be a problem as far as rain goes, though the same winds that perplexed drivers Saturday could return. Roth turned 222.126 mph in practice Saturday morning, but that speed was nowhere to be found in his qualifying run.
"My revs were nowhere near up to the revs I needed to pull down that back straightaway. I'd exit Turn 2 and I would drop in speed rather than accelerate," Roth said. "The wind was gusting. Looking at the afternoon, it was fairly plain to see just about everybody fell way back and wasn't close to the times they were posting this morning."
That was the case for Buddy Lazier
, who ran 219.238 mph in the morning, but landed on the second-to-last spot on the grid at 217.939 mph. He and his Hemelgarn Johnson team could find themselves in the Bump Day crosshairs Sunday.
"We were certainly hoping for more than that ," said Lazier, trying for his 14th consecutive 500. "The weather changed and affected a lot of guys. I think it affected us more."
But Lazier's team should get a full night's sleep Saturday, which may be more than Papis' crew can say.
"We'll work until it is done tonight," said Jim Freudenberg, co-owner of Rubicon. "Sam Schmidt Motorsports had a lot of spare parts. Chris [Griffis], the team manager, was scrambling through the garage to get parts. Dallara and the [IRL] have helped us out, so we're just trying to get it back together."
John Schwarb is a freelance journalist covering motorsports and a contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.