Buddy Lazier, Lazier Partners team return to Indianapolis 500

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Long rumored but not officially confirmed until Thursday, the Lazier Partners Racing team will return to this year’s Indianapolis 500, with 1996 race champion Buddy Lazier driving the No. 91 University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research Chevrolet.

After a four-year hiatus from the track, and five from the field, Lazier returned in 2013. He’s likely going to be the oldest driver in the field at age 46 and is one of now six past ‘500 winners set to qualify for the 2014 race (Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan, Jacques Villeneuve).

The new sponsorship is owing to wanting to raise awareness for this institute. The research center specializes in engineering cures for rare, inherited retinal diseases. In 2013, Stephen Wynn, the chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts, Limited and who suffers from a rare eye disease, committed $25 million to aid the research on the UI campus.

Jacqueline Lazier, the 12-year-old daughter of Buddy and Kara Lazier, was born with a rare eye disorder called Aniridia, which is characterized by a complete or partial absence of the colored part of the eye (the iris). Aniridia can cause reduction in visual acuity (sharpness) and increased sensitivity to light. The Aniridia, combined with glaucoma, has caused Jacqueline to lose vision in her right eye.

Buddy Lazier’s father Bob said this year’s effort has had much more lead time than last year’s, which came together barely a month before the race in their hometown of Vail, Col.

“It took a monumental effort in 2013 to organize the team in such a short period of time and make the race,” the elder Lazier said. “Now, we’ve had an entire year to organize the team, and we have raised the expectations for this year’s Indianapolis 500.”

UPDATED: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama under red-flag race stoppage due to rain

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UPDATE: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.