Label Cloud



Lazier faces struggle with his car

Buddy Lazier is in familiar surroundings with a familiar team. He also faces an all-too-familiar uphill fight to drive a competitive entry in the Indianapolis 500.

Lazier, 40, has reunited with Hemelgarn Racing, the team with which he won the 1996 Indy 500 and 2000 IndyCar Series championship. The team was unable to get its car on the track Thursday and so has only today's practice to get ready for the final weekend of qualifying.

"We're running behind, but my guys have been doing all-nighters to try to get it done," Lazier said. "I'm not talking all-nighters like till 2 in the morning. I'm talking all night long. So I can't be upset when the guys are working that hard."

His crew has a lot of familiar faces, including a few who were part of the 1996 victory.

"The guys have put a nice car together considering six days ago it was just a pile of pieces," Lazier said. "I feel confident about what we can do on race day, but right now I'm a little nervous because we need time on the track just to make sure we can get it in the field."

Once on the track, the 15-time Indy starter is confident of being able to go fast despite not being in an Indy car since last year's 500. "It just comes right back," he said.

Lazier's win, which came only two months after he broke his back in a crash at Phoenix, began a five-year stretch in which he finished no worse than seventh and twice was the runner-up. But driving for a variety of teams since 2001 and not a regular in the series since 2003, his past seven efforts have produced only one finish above 12th. He was fifth in a Panther Racing car in 2005.

"I've had a lot of years here, a lot of struggles here, but also a lot of success here," he said. "I know what it feels like to finish last (in 1991 when, as a rookie, he was taken out in a first-lap crash) and I know what it feels like to win.

"The worst is to finish second (which he did in 1998 and 2000). Those are the ones that haunt you."


Blog Widget by LinkWithin