INDIANAPOLIS - Roberto Moreno joined Richie Hearn and rookie Phil Giebler as final-day qualifiers yesterday for the Indianapolis 500.
Jimmy Kite, who began the day with the slowest speed (214.528 m.p.h) among the 32 drivers already in the lineup, was the only driver who was bumped out.
With less than an hour to go until the 33-car field was set for Sunday's race, Moreno was on the bubble, the slowest qualifier in the lineup at 216.229 m.p.h.
The 48-year-old Brazilian was up to the challenge. His first lap was more than 219.8 and the next three were all more than 220, giving him an average of 220.299.
"[On Saturday], we were not ready for it," Moreno said. "We played around too much with the car. I told my engineer to just make me comfortable so I could go flat around this track. I'd never done that. My cars I drove before, I never drove flat here."
Moreno, who finished 19th in 1986 and 20th in 1999, was so happy with his run yesterday, he took his hands off the steering wheel before he completed the final lap, raising his arms in triumph and shaking his fists.
Hearn, who finished third here as a rookie in 1996, filled the 33d spot in the field with about three hours remaining, posting a speed of 219.860.
Giebler, who drives for Playa Del Racing, turned three laps at more than 221 m.p.h. on Saturday before hitting the wall in Turn 2. His team worked through the night to repair the car, and Giebler was back on track yesterday, quickly getting up to more than 219 in practice.
"The team didn't give me a bad car or anything," Giebler said. "I just got caught out with some wind or maybe some dirt on the track. It was an unfortunate thing but, as a racing driver, you expect those things every now and then. You can't go out there and say, 'I'm never going to crash.'