INDIANAPOLIS A.J. Foyt IV had to deal with wind and then fire Sunday before his starting spot in the 92nd Indianapolis 500 was secure.
At least it didn't rain.
The grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt began the final day of qualifying for the May 25 race as a non-qualifier, needing to bump his way into the 33-car field.
The biggest obstacle was the howling wind, blowing at a steady 20 mph and also gusting at times at least 10 mph harder.
But Foyt, who tried twice Saturday to qualify getting caught by the wind and nearly hitting the wall on his first attempt and having the second try aborted before he even began by a broken gearbox persevered. Moments after the 2.5-mile oval was opened for qualifying at noon, the 23-year-old driver gritted his teeth and made a solid, four-lap qualifying run averaging 219.184 mph.
That was easily good enough to bump Marty Roth, the slowest of the first 33 qualifiers at 215.506, from the tentative field.
"It's not easy," Foyt said. "Each corner you have to approach a little bit differently. It is really tough, especially the speed you carry around here. ... I'm just glad to get out there and put four laps in."
About 90 minutes later, Roth, a 49-year-old Canadian land developer and father of five, bounced back into the lineup with a four-lap run of 218.965 that knocked 1996 Indy winner Buddy Lazier's 217.939 out of the field and put the 218.010 of Roger Yasukawa "on the bubble" as the slowest qualifying speed.
"We're not focusing on a track record here, folks," Roth said. "Just focusing on the bottom two rows where bumping is going to take place. We just have to play it safe. It's just being responsible and not going crazy, crossing the line resulting in a crash and missing the show."
After Roth's run the track opened for practice and Foyt was involved in the scariest moment of the day.
Scott Dixon, among the 11 drivers who qualified last weekend, won the pole at 226.366, more than 7 mph faster than Roth, the slowest qualifier for the second straight year.
The final field includes former Indy winners Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves, and Buddy Rice, as well as 11 rookies, led by 19-year-old Graham Rahal, one of the drivers making the transition from the defunct Champ Car World Series to the recently unified IRL IndyCar Series.