Buddy Lazier Plans Indy 500 Return
INDIANAPOLIS — Buddy Lazier, the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, has become the 33rd entry in the 97th Indianapolis 500 May 26.
Lazier will attempt to qualify May 18-19 in the Chevrolet-powered No. 91 Lazier Partners car for Lazier Partners Racing, which is owned by former Indy 500 competitor and Buddy’s father, Bob Lazier.
Buddy Lazier is the 33rd driver announced and the team is the 34th entrant. He won the 1996 500 Mile Race in the No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing-Delta Faucet-Montana car, leading 43 laps, after starting fifth. Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves, both with three victories, and 2008 winner Scott Dixon are the others entered who have drank the milk in victory circle.
In 16 starts at the Speedway, Lazier has five top-five finishes. He last qualified for the 33-car field on Bump Day in 2008 in a Hemelgarn Racing-prepared car, starting 32nd and finishing 17th.
Lazier also was the 2000 IZOD IndyCar Series champion (two victories, three second-place finishes in nine races) and 2001 runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr.
“This all happened roughly 10 days ago and we’re literally putting everything together now. Sponsors are coming by the day, but we’re all heading to Indianapolis to get it done,” said Lazier, 45, who last attempted to qualify in 2009. “When I was 19 years old I was trying to pass my rookie test in a machinist’s union car that was given to us with an all-voluntary crew. So I’ve done it where it’s last minute and I’ve been there with some of the best teams of their era.
“I have so many miles around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that I feel comfortable with the race track. I haven’t driven this new rules package (twin-turbocharged V-6 Chevrolet engine and new chassis) but I was around with turbo-charged engines before the Indy Racing League was formed. I’m looking forward to it.
“I know the car will be fast. I just don’t know how much track time we’ll get before qualifying.”
Lazier Partners purchased the Dallara chassis that Jean Alesi drove for Fan Force United in last year’s Indy 500.
“We had a good opportunity to buy this car, which is basically brand new,” said Lazier, whose family owns and manages a ski resort. “We were sitting around with a bunch of friends who are businessmen and skiers talking about how we could buy this car, put a team together and run Indy. I come back the next day and these guys bought it. Then I had to explain that we need a run budget, we have to lease the engine, but the process continued.”
Lazier Partners has been in discussions with IZOD IndyCar Series teams to form a technical alliance. Dennis Lacava, longtime chief mechanic with Hemelgarn Racing, will be the crew chief.