Katherine Legge said recently that she hadn't given up hope of making an appearance in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 despite her being let-go over the offseason by Dragon Racing. But even so, confirmation on Pole Day - the official day of qualifying for the race - was cutting it fine.
"I'm psyched to get back in the car," said Legge after being unveiled as the driver of the #81 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car on Saturday. "Especially at Indy, because this is such a special place."
"Katherine's top-10 finish in Fontana last year showed me that she has the speed and endurance to finish a 500-mile race, which are the most grueling conditions our drivers encounter," said team owner Sam Schmidt.
Schmidt had entered an extra car in the Indy 500 alongside his regular all-French line-up of Simon Pagenaud and Tristan Vautier, but not announced a driver until today. The official line had been that Schmidt wanted to make sure both Pagenaud and Vautier were safely locked into the race before risking pitting resources to introduce a wild card.
That means the team is scrambling today to get the new #81 ready for Legge to make her qualifying run in: "Our team is working very hard to build her car and give her the equipment she needs to qualify and race competitively at Indianapolis," Schmidt said.
Legge's addition to the official entry list means that there are now 34 cars trying to make it onto the 33-car starting grid for next weekend's Indianapolis 500 - so someone is going to lose out and Bump Day is going to live up to its name one way or another.
Legge is just hoping that it isn't her: she desperately wants to make today the start of her 2013 Indy adventure and not just a one-day wonder.
"I owe a huge thank you to Honda, Firestone, the IZOD IndyCar Series and especially Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports for pulling this together in the last minute to get the car on track," said the 32-year old English driver, who recently finished on the podium in her maiden outing in the DeltaWing at the American Le Mans Series race at Laguna Seca, Monterey.
Legge said that ties with Schmidt and his team went back further than anyone had realised, and even pre-dated her ill-fated stint at Dragon last year,
"I was talking with Sam in 2011 about driving one of his cars," she revealed. "I'm so excited to finally get in one of them and work with the entire team in addition to Simon and Tristan."
Qualifying for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 got off to a delayed start after rain and wet conditions on the track prevented the green flag from flying for the first two and a half hours on Saturday. The scheduled has been revised and will now run later into the evening than originally planned, weather permitting.