Here are a half-dozen drivers who could be sweating this weekend (in alphabetical order), four of whom could be packing up the transporters Sunday night:
He knows his way around the 2.5-mile oval, with a win and two thirds in the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100, but it's been a struggle this month with Conquest Racing. A crash during rookie orientation put him in the hospital overnight with back pain, and the No. 34 hasn't been fast. It might be a stretch for Conquest to land both Camara and fellow rookie Enrique Bernoldi in the show.
He's one of the non-rookie rookies, with six years of Champ Car experience, including many oval races. But his Pacific Coast Motorsports car hasn't found a lot of speed at Indy, and a minor crash last week -- combined with the practice-eating weather -- hasn't allowed momentum to build for the Mexican.
The third Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry isn't a weakling, but it's this simple: The second-year driver will never face a bigger test than this weekend's qualifying. Making her first Indy 500 last year was a snap compared with this.
The 2007 Indy rookie of the year got a last-minute ride with American Dream Motorsports and hasn't seen track time yet. "It was kind of a do-or-die situation if we were going to get out there for qualifying and get this done, so we're just glad to get the car put together," Giebler said. OK, but making your first laps on the morning of qualifications?
The 40-year-old is reunited with Hemelgarn Racing, with whom he won the 500 in 1996, won a series title in 2000 and has run a few one-offs at Indy in recent years. He'll try to extend his streak of consecutive 500s to 14, tops among active drivers, with a car that saw the track for the first time Friday and ran 216.392 mph. "There's no shortcuts; we're just very rapidly going through the proper steps to be really good," Lazier said.
Veteran John Andretti has looked solid in the Roth Racing No. 24 as a midmonth replacement for Jay Howard, so solid he has been 3 mph faster than his own boss. Roth has never qualified better than 29th in three 500s, and he could be in the mix of cars that bounce around the edge of the grid on Bump Day.
-- John Schwarb