Sometime advance planning pays off and that was the case for two-time Pay Less Little 500 champion Brian Tyler on “bump day” Friday at Anderson Speedway.
Tyler posted the 25th quick time on Thursday in the Contos Racing entry, but on Friday spent the day practicing the team’s backup car.
The team withdrew the posted qualifying time and Tyler went out to re-qualify but quickly pulled into the infield. Tyler tossed the steering wheel from the car and immediately ran to get into the backup car. The car lost an engine.
Tyler turned four laps with an average speed of 78.29 miles per hour and will start 17th in the 33-car field for the 69th running of the Pay Less Little 500 presented by GM UAW.
The Contos Racing team purposely entered three cars for the Little 500 for their two drivers Tyler and Shane Cottle in the event of a mechanical problem in the team’s two primary cars.
“This is a blessing in disguise,” Tyler said. “I could smell a bearing going on the front straight and the engine let go on the back straight.
“I had no idea there was going to be a problem,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t have made it through the warm-up laps.”
Tyler said the team has been working several years on building a third car.
“It’s like a spare tire in a car, when you have one you never get a flat.”
Florida driver Mickey Kempgens set the pace with a four-lap average speed of 78.81 mph and will start 16th. That bumped New Castle driver Isaac Chapple from the field, but Chapple later in the day knocked Dameron Taylor from the field with a four-lap average speed of 78.04 mph, good for the 19th starting position.
“The track changed big time on Thursday,” Kempgens said. “It was a rocket in practice but when we put on tires to qualify, I couldn’t get it hooked up.”
Kempgens said if he turned the 78.81 mph average laps on Thursday he would be starting eighth tonight.
“The car was fast today, we’re happy.”
Michigan Doug Dietsch run the bubble as the qualifying period came to an end and will start 33rd.
“We were worried that they would put another driver in the 41 (Contos Racing) car,” he said.
“I was pretty confident we had the speed to get back into the field.”
The front row of Caleb Armstrong, Kyle Hamilton and defending race winner Kody Swanson will lead the field to the green flag at 8 p.m.
Former NASCAR and IndyCar champion Tony Stewart will start 21st and Kenny Schrader will be in the 25th starting position.