INDIANAPOLIS – Buddy Lazier hopes to qualify for his 20th Indianapolis 500 this weekend and believes progress was found in that quest today.
The 1996 Indy 500 winner and his Lazier Racing Partners team are optimistic that the No. 44 Lazier Racing-Stalk It-Tivoli Lodge Chevrolet will have enough speed to qualify this weekend and be competitive in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28.
“We can go quicker pretty easily,” said Lazier, who turned 30 laps in Fast Friday practice with a top speed of 219.640 mph.
Lazier didn’t even get on track until Thursday for a few shakedown laps. Today was his first extended time on track and, while he still ranks last among the 33 drivers competing, the 2000 Verizon IndyCar Series champion is satisfied with the systematic approach.
“We are trying to be smart and go about it methodically,” he said. “Actually, I thought we caught up a bunch. We are just one or two steps away from a good qualifying run.
“We can go quicker than we are right now but we are trying to make good decisions as we go.”
Lazier Racing Partners added a new sponsor today in the Factory at D1, an Indianapolis gym owned by the family of Jeff Teague, current Indiana Pacer and Indianapolis native. The Factory at D1 is scheduled to be completed in August.
“We started the day welcoming Jeff Teague's family and the Factory at D1 Sports as a new sponsor, which is a huge boost to our program this year,” said Lazier. “To me, in Indiana, what more could you ask for because you have basketball and INDYCAR racing all in one story, and to me that’s as Indiana as it gets.”
Performance Friction engineers receive Louis Schwitzer Award
Don Burgoon, the late founder of Performance Friction Corp., and engineers James Borner, Darin Cate, Paul Rankin and Mark Wagner were awarded the 51st Louis Schwitzer Award today for their work on developing the PFC carbon disc brake system used on Verizon IndyCar Series cars in 2017. Burgoon, who died in 2015, received the award posthumously along with his fellow engineers during a ceremony at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Schwitzer Award recognizes engineering excellence in racing technology at the Indianapolis 500. PFC’s braking system has made its mark on the series using a system that “consists of a carbon disc and pad assembly made from single continuously wound strands along with a patented mounting mechanism.” With a more balanced assembly, the PFC system helps INDYCAR teams by reducing unwanted vibration and tire wear, giving teams a more consistent braking feel and wear.
“The spirit of innovation drives progress,” said James Verrier, president and CEO of BorgWarner, which sponsors the award. “If you glance in the rearview mirror, you’ll see that past award winners have improved performance, efficiency and safety for generations of race car drivers. The engineers we acknowledge today will take their place in history, inspiring new innovations in the future.”
Racing world celebrates life of McElreath
Former Indianapolis 500 competitor and five-time Indy car race winner Jim McElreath died Thursday in his hometown of Arlington, Texas, at age 89. McElreath, the 1962 Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year, was one of the top Indy car racers in the 1960s and ‘70s.
McElreath finished in the top three in USAC points four times between 1963 and 1970, finishing runner-up to Mario Andretti in 1966. He was also competitive in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” posting six top-six finishes in 15 starts. After a sixth-place finish in his first running at Indianapolis – where he ran up front all day and many believe would have challenged for the win if not for slow pit stops – McElreath finished third in 1966 behind Formula One stars Graham Hill and Jim Clark.