Two Olympic bobsled members will crew Buddy Lazier’s car in Indy 500

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You might remember back in February during this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics that David Cripps, veteran Verizon IndyCar Series engineer, went to work for the U.S. Men’s National Bobsled team.

Cripps is now working with Buddy Lazier and Lazier Partners Racing this month, as engineer of that car. And he’s bringing two of his bobsled teammates with him.

Abe Morlu, from Boone, North Carolina, and Dallas Robinson, from Georgetown, Kentucky, join the LPR effort this month. Robinson competed in the Sochi Winter Olympics in both 2-Man and 4-Man bobsled competition. Morlu has competed in several world championship bobsled events. As a world-class sprinter, Morlu has also competed in two Summer Olympic games for Liberia, where he was born.

During the race, both will be over-the-wall crew members during the race on the No. 91 University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research Chevrolet. Morlu will change the right-rear tire and Robinson will refuel the car.

Additionally, both took two-seater rides with Mario Andretti on Monday, to gauge and compare the experience between being in a bobsled and in a car.

“That two-seater ride was awesome,” Morlu said, via IndyCar PR. “I got to take it with Mario Andretti too. You can’t ask for anything better. It was great. Those cars have so much downforce and so much grip. I was trying to check out the line Mario was driving. I play it on a lot of simulators and after getting to see the line from Mario I want to play the game again so I can break my record.”

That’s only the start for Morlu, as he plans to tackle one of racing’s most challenging feats next year.

“I am going to race Pikes Peak next year on a motorcycle – the race to the top,” he said. “So, this experience really got me ready for it. I was second guessing it, but going that fast in a car with Mario, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m ready to do this.'”

Added Robinson, “The two-seater with Andretti was wild. I am very used to feeling vertical g’s pushing me down. In a bobsled you get five vertical g’s. But the lateral G’s in an IndyCar are something else. Vertical g’s push you down, with lateral g’s you are coming out through the side. You feel as though the back of the car, at any second, is going to come out. It’s amazing how tight they can handle. It was an amazing experience.

“I kept trying to lift my head up to look over Mario. That worked until we hit about 180 (mph) I was thinking I needed to put my head down. I thought, at any second, the back was going to come out. I’m going to be looking at Mario from the side at some point. It was pretty amazing.”

Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, is the oldest driver in this year’s field at age 46 and starts 33rd. But that sells short the team’s effort – it’s one of only two single-car entries in the race, and the lone Indianapolis-only team in the field. Lazier qualified at more than 227 mph.

Here’s what drivers said after Sunday’s INDYCAR race was postponed until Monday

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Here’s what several drenched drivers had to say after Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was postponed until Monday morning (11:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner, 2018 pole winner): “It’s tough because we have so many people that come out here to watch us. We want to put on a good race. We want to put on a show. So calling the race, running around behind the pace car not running, it’s tough, it’s tough to do that. But I think it was the right thing in the end. When we started the race, the conditions were OK. You could run at that level of rain. Then, it intensified right before that first caution. I think when the caution came out, it got to a point where it was just too much. There was too much puddling and pooling of water on every straightaway. Then the rivers started flowing, high-speed compressions in Turns 1 and 2, fast corner, 12 and 13, fast corner where the river starts to form. Just tough. I mean, look, we love racing in the rain. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to run in the rain, not being able to do that. It’s that this type of track with this water level was too much to race today. We’ve run here in the rain before, but it intensified to the point where you’re starting to get in a situation where it’s going to take it out of the drivers’ hands. What happened with Will (Power), I don’t think is a driver error. I don’t know how anyone is going to drive hydroplaning on the front straightaway. I think you would have had that for the rest of the track, too. A tough situation. Thanks for the fans that came out and supported us. Hopefully we’ll get some people back tomorrow and we’ll get the show in and put on a great event.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“Tough day so far. We had some problems with our radio and fuel alarm, but otherwise the car was alright. It was just too dangerous out there, we couldn’t see anything, so I think they made the right call. Hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s just a real shame for everyone on the Verizon Chevy team. The car was good and we were doing our best out there, but it was really hard to see anything in front of me. The conditions were just so bad. As soon as I got to the frontstraight, the car just came around, and I tried to keep it off the wall, but it was hydroplaning and there was nothing I could do. I feel bad for the team and for the fans in this weather. Just too bad. Hopefully our luck can turn around when we get to Indianapolis.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Very difficult day for us. In the race we were 13th at the time and we had some electrical issues, so that caused us to pit and we lost a lap. Not the ideal situation, but we don’t give up. There’s still a race tomorrow and we’re going to go for the most points. Anything can happen.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “It was a tough beginning, but when we kind of got going it was OK and kind of fun to challenge for a while, but visibility was a major issue today, no doubt. I’m glad that the series postponed it. I would have like to get it in today, but that’s life. We will go racing tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “I think definitely the right decision was made to red flag the race. It’s a very difficult position for everyone to be in. It’s never the result that you want, but safety is obviously a priority. I think everyone did a good job considering the conditions of looking out for each other. Not being able to see is not doing anybody any good. It is hard for everyone, but glad that we’re all in one piece and try again later.

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “As you could see on TV, if you couldn’t see the car, it was probably three times worse in the cockpit on the main straight or any straight. You had to completely trust the guys that they were accelerating. Never the less, I made good progress on the short stint and I made up a few positions.  The car was working well, but also was aquaplaning a lot, too, so I have to respect INDYCAR’s decision for everyone’s safety. Now we really need to concentrate on having a good car for tomorrow. I’m sorry for the fans that sat in rain all day, but thank them for their support.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “It was a short day. In the beginning the conditions were not that good, but afterwards the conditions started to improve. The race was stopped, then restarted, and I think the conditions were not too bad at that point. Unfortunately, it was red flagged again and then cancelled for the day. It would have been nice to get halfway, but we will come back and try again tomorrow.”