Two Drivers Realize Little 500 Dream

Two Drivers Realize Little 500 Dream

A rookie and a driver waiting 26 years to make the Lucas Oil Little 500 presented by UAW starting field will start in the last row.

The 33-car starting field will be led to the green flag by 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 one-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 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,” Ensign said. “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.”

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. “I get faster every time I go out on the track,” Fitzwater said.

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.