IndyCar rookie Sebastian Saavedra has qualified in the 33rd and final starting position for next weekends Indianapolis 500. Saavedra’s Bryan Herta Autosport entry, owned in part by Valencia’s Bryan Herta, had qualified for the event earlier Sunday afternoon. But with less than an hour before the end of qualifying, Saavedra, who was on the bump at the time, lost control and backed into the wall in turn one, damaging the teams only car.
After several drivers moved into the field, Herta thought his team’s month was over a weekend early. But after both Paul Tracy and Jay Howard withdrew their qualifying times, Saavedra was placed back into the field. Both Tracy and Howard attempted to improve their qualifying position, but Tracy made contact with the wall, and with time expired, Howard’s car unexpectedly slowed to its slowest speed’s of the month, placing Saavedra back in the field.
After Howard’s car had completed its run, an ecstatic Herta called Saavedra, who had been taken to Methodist Hospital to be evaluated, and told the rookie the news. Herta said the car was fixable, and praised his operation, noting the significance of making the field for the world’s most prestigious auto race. Not bad for a team Herta called “two guys in a truck.”