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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Full field for Indy 500 iffy

May 23, 2004

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— Tradition might yet triumph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Going into the final round of time trials today, it's going to take seven drivers to fill the traditional 33-car lineup for the May 30 race. By the end of Saturday's practice, six had rides and had turned laps on the 21/2-mile oval.

There are more drivers, if 11th-hour deals can be made.

"I think there will be 33," said Sam Schmidt, who made a deal this week to lease a car from Penske Racing and hired Richie Hearn on Thursday to drive it. "There's so much gossip here, but I think it will get there."

There have not been fewer than 33 starters in the 500 since only 30 took the green flag in 1947, and the track opened May 9 with considerable doubt about keeping that streak alive.

Twenty-six of 27 drivers who practiced during the first week have qualified, during the first two days of time trials. That left only 46-year-old rookie Marty Roth, who has yet to make a four-lap, 10-mile qualifying attempt.

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