The Herald Bulletin

April 30, 2013

Ken de la Bastide: Bumping likely at Indy 500


— There will be a lot of discussion during the coming weeks about how many cars will be entered in the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

Currently there are 31 confirmed entries, two drivers shy of the full field of 33. It’s conceivable that between 36 and 40 teams will attempt qualifying runs on May 18 and 19.

Several factors will play into the number of cars in the Indy 500. First, of course, is money and how much funding a driver can bring to the table. The second is the number of engines and chassis that are available.

Expected to land a ride in May are Jay Howard, Townsend Bell, Buddy Lazier, Jaques Lazier and Noblesville resident Bryan Clauson. Three regular competitors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — Alex Lloyd, Buddy Rice and Tomas Scheckter — will likely have the necessary funding to secure a ride.

The actual number of cars attempting qualifying runs probably won’t be known until “bump day” on May 19. But before the qualifying begins on that Sunday, there will be a great deal of speculation concerning who will have a ride and who will be out of a car for the race.



In other racing news

 Tony “Smoke” Stewart has been in the news a lot lately, and it hasn’t been for his performance on the racetrack.

Stewart had a run-in with Joey Logano earlier this year over an allegation of blocking on a restart — something that all Sprint Cup drivers partake in when a win is on the line.

This past weekend Stewart bumped Kurt Busch several times on pit road following the race at Richmond International Raceway. During the two-lap dash to the finish, Stewart was in a position to record his second top-10 finish of the year when he spun. Stewart finished 18th.

Busch said he didn’t understand why Stewart was upset.

I’m wondering if “Smoke” is starting to feel a little frustrated with the lack of on-track performance by his Stewart-Haas team this year.

He is mired in 22nd place in the point standings. There hasn’t been a top-five finish and he has only one top-10.

Teammate Ryan Newman is 16th in the point standings, has scored one top-five and four top-10 finishes. Danica Patrick, driving the third car in the stable, is 26th in points and has one top-10 finish to date.

All three cars are powered by engines from Hendrick Motorsports, so the problem for the Stewart team is probably set-up and not horsepower.

With the Sprint Cup drivers visiting Talladega Speedway for the first time Sunday, Stewart could have a strong finish because of his prowess at bump drafting.

 The ARCA/CRA Super Late Models will be at Anderson Speedway on Saturday for the “Sell it Again, Sam” 125-lap race. Included in the field are local favorites Rick Turner, Kenny Tweedy, Joe Beaver and Eddie VanMeter.

Visiting drivers include Steve Dorer, the 2011 Redbud 300 winner; T.J. Reaid and Kyle Benjamin.

The Outlaw Figure 8 cars will be at the speedway Friday with IOFS Front Wheel Drive figure-8s and the UMRA Midgets.

Racing on both nights starts at 8 p.m.

Ken de la Bastide’s weekly column on motor racing appears each Wednesday.