ANDERSON, Ind. — A rookie and a driver who waited 26 years to make the Lucas Oil Little 500 starting field will start in the last row.
The 33-car starting field will be led to the green flag a front row of Kody Swanson, Tyler Roahrig and rookie Jake Trainor.
It’s the fastest field gathered for the 75th running of the race with a single-lap time of 11.6 seconds needed to make the starting grid. California driver Geoff Ensign rode the qualifying “bubble” for most of Friday at Anderson Speedway as several drivers, including former winner Jeff Bloom, were looking for the necessary speed.
With time running down, Ensign was seated in his race car, waiting to see if he was bumped and would have to make another effort.
“It’s the most stressful thing I’ve done,” he said of riding the bubble. “This was the first time I’ve seen the track. It’s cool. It’s the best short track I’ve seen. Not the speed, but getting the handle through the corners.”
He said the team practiced faster than they qualified on Thursday.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are, this is a great opportunity,” he added.
Anderson resident Doug Fitzwater first attempted to make the starting field 26 years ago and has failed to make the race the past four years.
“This will be my sixth attempt at making the Little 500,” he said. “It was the best four laps I’ve ever turned since coming through the gate here.”
Fitzwater said he wasn’t worried about making the race after qualifying 31st. He believed he had the speed to bump back into the field. He added, “I get faster every time I go out on the track.”
Colorado driver Bryan Gossel was the only drive to bump his way into the field with a four-lap time of 46.086 seconds good enough for 30th. Gossel bumped Idaho driver Mike Anderson from the field and he was unable to get back into the field. He’s the first alternate.
Other drivers making the effort but failing in addition to Bloom and Anderson were Drew Anderson and Tom Paterson.
Tentative Starting Lineup
Kody Swanson, Tyler Roahrig, Jake Trainor, Emerson Axsom, C.J. Leary, Billy Wease, Shane Hollingsworth, Logan Seavey, Kyle O’Gara, Derek Bischak, Chris Neuenschwander, Caleb Armstrong, Bobby Santos III, Tanner Swanson, Dakoda Armstrong, Brian Gerster, Jacob Wilson, Isaac Chapple, Travis Welpott, Brady Bacon, Davey Hamilton Jr., Brian Vaughn, Dalton Armstrong, Aaron Willison, Shawn Bonar, Jacob McElfresh, L.J. Grimm, Scott Evans, Tony Main, Bryan Gossel, Justin Harper, Doug Fitzwater, Geoff Ensign.