Despite having just six hours of qualifying left in which to make the Indianapolis 500 field after missing out on the third scheduled day of timed running, neither Max Papis or Mario Dominguez appeared too concerned about having to sit out the blue riband event next weekend.

The infamous Bump Day is all that stands between the open-wheel veterans and a grandstand view of the 500 on 25 May after accidents claimed both before qualifying even began on Saturday but, even though both are running with relatively inexperienced outfits at Indianapolis, Papis and Dominguez remain convinced that they can displace some slower runners and find a berth.

Papis' Rubicon race team, which is being aided by Sam Schmidt Motorsports this month, worked feverishly into Saturday night in order to repair the Italian's #44 Dallara, securing vital replacement parts from several sources in the garage area, including the chassis manufacturer and a generous Vision Racing.

"[The car] will be back together today, but getting it back on track wouldn't be the safest thing for Max or anybody," co-owner Jim Freudenberg admitted, "We'll work until it is done tonight, and we'll be back on the track tomorrow.

"Sam Schmidt Motorsports had a lot of spare parts. [Team manager] Chris [Griffis] was scrambling through the garage to get parts, but Dallara and the League have helped us out, so we're just trying to get it back together. This is the good thing that comes from the bad part of racing - even people you are trying to beat are trying to give you a fair shot. To me, that doesn't happen in many places. It is the positive thing about this sport.

"Most of us have known each other for many years so, when you don't burn bridges and you make friends, you'll be able to count on each other. We'd do the same for other teams if they were in this position."

The Series' senior medical director, Dr Mike Olinger, said that Papis has been checked and released at the Clarian Emergency Medical Centre and will be cleared to drive on Bump Day.

"It was definitely a very unfortunate moment for the Rubicon Lifelock team," the Italian said of his accident, "We are trying to understand and analyse what happened, but the bottom line is that we don't have a car to qualify right now. I drove into Turn Three and, right when I was turning in, the car just came around. It was a very, very unusual feeling as I had never had this problem before. It was very, very unexpected. But I have a lot of confidence with my guys, they are coming up with a solution, and we'll see what happens."

Dominguez, meanwhile, talked confidently about Pacific Coast Motorsports' plans for Bump Day, having also crashed during morning practice. The Mexican was unhurt in the incident and has also been cleared by Olinger to drive.

"It's looking good," Dominguez said of the former Champ Car team's preparations, "The car is ready to go. We have a practice tomorrow, and it will be great to set up the car and have it working properly and make it go a bit faster than it's been so far. With a little help from the gods, we should be able to make it in the field.

"The team is amazing. They have been doing some serious work ever since they got this car. If you can believe it, they put it together just two-and-a-half weeks ago. It's just incredible what they've done, and What they've done today, again, shows how professional this team is. The fact that most of us are new to Indy doesn't mean we can't get the job done. Obviously, Indy is a tough place. We knew it was going to be difficult coming in, and we were ready for things like that, so that helps us out.

"I'm confident [we'll make the field], but I'm certainly not sitting down and relaxing. I'm not relaxed, and neither is the team, by any means. We knew coming in that it was not going to be easy to make the field, but we all believe we can do it, and we're going to do out tomorrow and do it. We'll go out as soon as the track opens - and qualify. We might have to go out again and again and again because other people can be bumping each other out, but we're ready for that, too."



Loading Comments...