Buddy Lazier will return to this year’s Indy 500

Leave a comment

Buddy Lazier will make his return to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in four years. The 1996 race champion will be entered in the No. 91 Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet, the ex-Fan Force United chassis of a year ago. In the official release, no alignment with an existing team was named.

Lazier last attempted to qualify in 2009 with Hemelgarn Racing but missed the field. In 2008, he dragged a car that had no business being in the field to a qualifying position in one of the more memorable Bump Day runs in recent memory.

In 16 starts at the Speedway, Lazier has five top-five finishes. He finished 17th in 2008 and ended in fifth in a Panther Racing-entered car in 2005, his last top-10 finish in the race.

“This all happened roughly 10 days ago and we’re literally putting everything together now,” said Lazier, 45. “Sponsors are coming by the day, but we’re all heading to Indianapolis to get it done. When I was 19 years old I was trying to pass my rookie test in a machinist’s union car that was given to us with an all-voluntary crew. So I’ve done it where it’s last minute and I’ve been there with some of the best teams of their era.”

The move pushes the field to 33 confirmed car and driver combinations, with a 34th car, a second Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, unlikely to run.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

Follow @JerryBonkowski