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.
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.