Monday, May 30, 2011

From On The Line To Victory Lane

Just over a year ago Bryan Herta Autosport was in trouble. Flashback to May 2010, entering the month Herta made it quite clear that if Rookie Sebastian Saavedra couldn't get their #29 entry into the Indianapolis 500, it could spell the end for the young cash-strapped team.
"We put everything on the line to make this race," Herta said.

Following a crash in practice, Saavedra was unlikely at best to make the field of 33.

With a 4-lap qualification average of just 223.634mph, it appeared a second attempt would be necessary. On a practice run later in the day, the William Rast entry was a victim of the first turn wall destroying the car, sending Saavedra to the hospital and leaving the helpless entry on the bubble.

Struggling all month, Tony Kanaan was on his third rebuilt car but still managed to put the #11 into the field, bumping Saavedra.

Although temporarily back in the field when Mario Romancini withdrew his time in an attempt at a quicker speed, the spot didn't stay his long as the Conquest driver bumped Saavedra once again.

KV Racing Technology's Takuma Sato was next in the qualification line attempting to bump Jay Howard who was now on the bubble, successfully doing so. Sarah Fisher Racing's second entry in Howard was back in the race when Paul Tracy's time was withdrawn. Failing to get up to speed Tracy was much slower than his original time and with the clock just moments from 6 o'clock his day and Month of May were over.

Worried that the speed wasn't good enough, Sarah Fisher Racing withdrew Jay Howard's qualification run, pulling Bryan Herta Autosport and Sebastian Saavedra back into the field. As the gun shot off the final attempt of the day failed, sending Howard home and Saavedra into the show.

Although the $255,555 check was welcomed for their 23rd place finish, due to another crash on race day, it didn't go as far as I'm sure they'd have liked.

The returning support of William Rast made a second run at the Indy 500 possible. But for a small single car team 40 entries and better competition, it made a run at the Borg Warner nearly impossible.

With 3 Penske, 4 Ganassi, 5 Andretti Autosport, 4 KVRT, and 4 Dreyer and Reinbold entries among the 40 cars vying for a spot on the 11 rows of 3 grid, just making the field appeared to be a task, even with the 2005 Indy 500 Champ behind the wheel.

15 days from opening day, when just making the race was a question mark, their white and orange Dallara was being pushed to victory lane, a glass bottle of milk was being poured over their heads, a wreath was placed around the driver's neck, and a $3million check was waiting on them.

In May of 2010 the future of Bryan Herta Autosport was dim, a year later it couldn't be brighter.


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