Last time Alex Lloyd left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his emotions were running high after a fourth-place finish in the 2010 Indianapolis 500. A year later, Lloyd left the track on the same emotional high after two long and trying days of qualifying, that resulted in a last minute qualifying attempt that put his #19 Boy Scouts of America car into the 33-car field for the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500 next Sunday afternoon.
“When I saw the crew guys faces pulling up in pit lane it was such a great feeling to see not only how important this was to me, but the entire #19 Boy Scouts of America team and their families,” Lloyd said. “It was a better feeling than finishing in fourth place last year.”
Less than fifteen minutes into qualifying on Sunday, a huge thunderstorm put the entire process on hold. When Lloyd finally got on the track, nearly two hours later, he qualified his #19 Boy Scouts of America car into the field, but his time didn’t hold up and he was soon sitting on the bubble when the second rain delay on the day hit. The first car out after the second delay was Danica Patrick, who immediately bumped Lloyd from the field.
Lloyd soon went out for his second attempt on the day, but it was not quite fast enough to get him back into the field, and was waved off by team owner Dale Coyne.
With minutes remaining and one attempt left, Lloyd shocked everyone by posting an average lap speed of 223.957 MPH, which temporarily bumped Marco Andretti out of the 33-car field and put Lloyd on the outside of row 10. Andretti was the last car to qualify and his last attempt knocked Lloyd starting position to the inside of row 11.
“We came back out after the rain with a completely different setup and only did 222.700 mph., so we waved off the run because I almost hit the wall,” said Lloyd. “We didn’t have much time to do much to the car other than a couple tire pressure adjustments. On my final warm-up lap I didn’t have any grip on the tires and had to lift going into turn three. I thought there was no way we could do it and then I saw my time and said maybe we might have a shot at this. At that point I was holding it flat or putting it into the wall. I told myself there is not going to be a lift. It was all or nothing, but that is what Indy is all about. “
James Jakes, driver of the #18 Acorn Stairlifts car, may have not qualified for this year’s Indianapolis 500, but the rookie driver did show everyone that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Jakes, who has only raced in four IZOD IndyCar Series races in his young career, was making his inaugural oval track debut on what might be the toughest oval to drive in the world.
“We knew how tough the field was going to be here this year,” said team owner Coyne. “I can’t say enough good things about James. He did a fantastic job considering he has never driven on any oval in any kind of car in his entire life, he can walk away from here holding his head up with great pride.”
The 95th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be on Sunday, May 29 and can be seen live on ABC-TV starting at 11 a.m. (EDT).