Tomas Scheckter could be poised to add his name to the list of contenders for one of the final eleven spots on the grid for this year's Indianapolis 500 - although the South African has yet to decide on a team to run with.
Just one day remains before the final weekend of qualifying for the blue riband event, but Scheckter's name continues to be bandied about as a potential qualifier for the race, along with other latecomers such as Oriol Servia, Townsend Bell, Buddy Lazier and, possibly, Bruno Junqueira.
According to the Indianapolis Star
, Scheckter is deciding between jumping into the Team 3G line-up as possible replacement for rookie Stanton Barrett, or joining Conquest Racing in a second car to complement that already being run for Alex Tagliani. Eleven non-qualified drivers took to the track when practice resumed for the first time since the opening qualifying weekend, but Scheckter and Junqueira were not among them. Their participation on Friday would almost certainly ensure that there will be 'bumping' on Bump Day.
Scheckter has previously made seven Indy 500 appearances, albeit with five different teams, with a best finish of fourth from 2003. He has not raced since parting company with Luczo Dragon Racing at the end of last season, and has since seen his seat there go to rookie Raphael Matos.
NASCAR convert Barrett has been the slowest driver throughout the month, and currently sits on a best lap of 218.709mph, potentially a couple of miles an hour off what it will take to make the cut on Sunday.
"We'll just keep working on it - work on set-up and get stability and grip and speed," he reported, "That's all we've been working on in different combinations. We spent the first week in one direction, and we switched that direction over. We had three days off, so we had to learn kind of what it takes. It's about trying to stay patient and not try and do anything too quick or fast. The guys see some real promise - they work really hard on the off-days, doing some aero stuff and reducing drag, and it made a big difference. I've just got to get the handling back and better, and we'll look to setting a lap on Saturday."
While Lazier has not been in an IndyCar since last year's 500, and 2008 stalwarts Bell and Servia debut with new teams, Junqueira is trying to sort a deal that would get him into qualifying at the very least. According to the report, the Brazilian puts his odds of being in a car this weekend at 50:50. His best chance appears to lie with the second car at 2008 team Dale Coyne Racing, which already has Justin Wilson safely in the field.
Meanwhile, Roth Racing has two cars ready for use, but has no interested drivers.