Wed, May 21, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Marty Roth, oldest Indy 500 driver, also last to qualify

AP , INDIANAPOLIS

At least he's in the race.

When Scott Dixon takes the green flag from the pole position on the inside of the front row, Marty Roth will be far, far back in an all-too-familiar spot at the tail end of the Indianapolis 500 lineup on Sunday.

It’s the second year in a row the Canadian driver has been the slowest qualifier and the fourth time in as many races he’ll start 29th or worse in the 33-car grid. He’s used to it.

“The car has been consistent,” said Roth, a former motorcycle racer who owns his own IndyCar team. “Right now our focus is trying to get out in traffic, put some downforce on it and make it a race car. Hopefully we can get away from the qualifying side of this month.”

Dixon, who won the pole at 226.366mph, and front-row mates Dan Wheldon and Ryan Briscoe were among the 11 first-day qualifiers, along with Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan on the second row. Marco Andretti, Vitor Meira and Hideki Mutoh, the fastest of 11 rookie qualifiers, qualified on the third row; and Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter earned spots on the fourth row, along with Townsend Bell, the fastest of the second-day qualifiers.

Roth, who qualified at 218.965mph, will be joined on the 11th and final row by A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of four-time winner A.J. Foyt, and former winner Buddy Lazier.

Now, with qualifying over, most of the work before the race will be in the garages. The last chance for on-track testing of race setups will be in a one-hour practice on Friday, Carburetion Day.

“I’m relaxed,” said Roth, one of only 10 drivers to be the slowest qualifier more than once and the first since Billy Boat in 2001 and 2002. “I was definitely pumping away at it after rolling off the scales [to qualify]. You realize the gravity of it, if you don’t make the show. It’s huge.”

If it’s any consolation, the last-place qualifier gets a US$50,000 bonus from Firestone.

A qualification attempt consists of four laps, with the average speed of those laps counting as the official time.

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