INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Buddy Lazier is on the bubble in his bid to make his 15th consecutive Indianapolis 500 start.

Lazier, the 1996 winner and two-time runner-up, struggled on the third day of qualifying, dropping nearly 2 mph on each of his final three qualifying laps Saturday. The result: A 216.487 mph average, not good enough to earn a spot.

He qualified for the 33-car field, but was bumped by Venezuela’s Milka Duno on the second-to-last qualifying attempt Saturday, putting Lazier on the precipice of missing his first Indy race since 1994.

If Lazier makes the field, he would become the 14th driver to make at least 15 consecutive starts. But now, he’ll be one of three drivers using the final day of qualifying to bump other drivers out of the field for the May 24 race.

Lazier didn’t drive on the track until Thursday. His top lap in practice Saturday was 219.508 mph, but he couldn’t match it during qualifying.

“We’re a second-weekend team, and we’ve only had two days’ worth of data,” he said. “We had two laps at 219. We would have been OK if we hadn’t fallen off.”

The veteran knows this speedway like few others. Lazier ranks eighth in miles driven (6,655) at Indy.

Duno respects Lazier’s experience.

“You know, this race is so tough,” she said. “Indianapolis is so fast. You have to have a good car and good balance. Everybody that’s here is a good driver. Even for a super driver that won the race before, it’s just pretty tough.”

Duno also faces the prospect of getting bumped. She’s in the 32nd starting spot heading into Sunday.

“We have to do 220s,” she said. “We were doing those in practice, but I guess we’ll have to do it for four laps in qualifying. We’ll be more relaxed after 6 p.m. tomorrow.”


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