FEMALE DRIVERS SWEEP POLES AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005 -- Danica Patrick and Sarah McCune will start from the pole positions Sunday in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean, and the Chicagoland...
FEMALE DRIVERS SWEEP POLES AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY
JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005 -- Danica Patrick and Sarah McCune will start from the pole positions Sunday in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean, and the Chicagoland 100, respectively, as the two women swept qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway.
IRL IndyCar® Series rookie Patrick earned her third career pole position, tying Tomas Scheckter for most poles by a rookie in a season. All of Patrick's poles have come on 1.5-mile ovals. She also earned the pole at Kansas Speedway in July and at Kentucky Speedway in August.
Patrick went out fourth in the qualifying order in the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone. She lapped the oval in 25.3369 seconds, 215.970 mph then watched as 19 other cars attempted to beat her.
Ryan Briscoe, the last driver to qualify, bettered Patrick's time by 0.1358 of a second, but the times of his car, and the cars of his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Jaques Lazier were disallowed after IRL officials found the post-qualifying technical infractions. All three were moved to the back of the starting grid.
Patrick's teammate, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, will start second. Scheckter and Sam Hornish Jr. will start in the second row, while series point leader Dan Wheldon will start fifth.
McCune became the first woman to win a pole position in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series
Making her series debut, McCune lapped the field in 29.1382 seconds, 187.795 mph.
McCune joins Marco Andretti, A.J. Foyt IV, Travis Gregg and Thiago Medeiros as drivers to win the pole position in their first Menards Infiniti Pro Series start.
Travis Gregg, a Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate of McCune, will start second. Vision Racing teammates Jay Drake and Nick Bussell will start third and fourth, respectively. Series point leader Wade Cunningham will start fifth.
PIKES PEAK 100 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
SARAH McCUNE (No. 8 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, qualified first ): "(About the race): "I'll just be concentrating on my own line and running my own race. I won't be thinking about anybody else, I'll just be doing my job. I always have really high goals for myself, so it's kind of what I expected, but I'm still really happy. I was nervous a little bit about the track, the different type of rubber on the track. The car was sliding a little bit. I had a little bit of an understeer, so I didn't know how good my time was going to be, but I'm excited that it held." (About hitting a bird): "I wasn't thinking about the bird at all. I was just focusing on my qualifying run and getting the best time I could." (About having previous tests that didn't produce a ride) : "I think every racecar driver gets to the point that they're not going to be excited about an opportunity until it actually happens, so I just kept trying to pace myself. Until I was actually out on the racetrack, I wasn't going to get my hopes up. (What helped you go fast?): "I'm new. Sometimes looking at a track from a different perspective helps. Maybe that's all it was, just me being fresh." (About what she learned from her short track background) "Short track drivers are not very easily intimidated. When you can go running one weekend Eldora, the next weekend Winchester, the next weekend Salem and IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park), going to a racetrack that you've never seen before isn't nearly as intimidating as it is to other people who have grown up racing at one or two tracks their whole career. I think that definitely helps. I think driving on dirt definitely helped me in qualifying today. The track was really slick, and my car was sliding, but I was able to control that because of having driven on dirt."
TRAVIS GREGG (No. 7 Lucas Oil Products/Sam Schmidt Mspt Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, qualified second): "It felt OK. We picked up a lot from practice, but it wasn't fast enough." (About starting next to a rookie): "My first race last year at Kentucky, I was a rookie and I started on the pole with Thiago Medeiros, who was the season champion last year, so I guess the roles are reversed a little bit. I think for the race, it should be pretty good. We've got teammates on the front row."
SAM SCHMIDT (Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "Sarah had a lot of success in the midget ranks when I was racing in the IRL. She definitely had a propensity to, when she got in front, just take off. Anyone who can drive one of those, can drive one of these. That's been my theory all along. We tested her in 2003 and worked for a strong year trying to find funding, and we couldn't get it together. I think the momentum that Danica (Patrick) has had helped us to find funding for this, and hopefully will assist us in finding funding for next year. I think there is definitely a place in this series for a female driver and one who can do this well."
NICK BUSSELL (No. 9 Vision Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, qualified fifth): "It was good really. I was happy with my car. Jay (Drake) and I were talking. I think our cars will race pretty well. I don't know what the qualifying thing is on the big tracks. We just missed the setup I guess on that. I'm not sure what we could have done differently, but I think we'll be pretty good for the race."
JAY DRAKE (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, qualified third): ""It was good for us. It will actually be our best starting position of the season. We were down in practice. We were eighth in both practices, so to come out and qualify we basically ran the same speeds as we did in practice, but the rest of them didn't quite have the speeds they practiced at, so we ended up third. We think we have a real good race car for tomorrow. We've got a great starting spot, so we'll see if we can keep it up front, race with those guys and hopefully get Tony (George) and Larry (Curry) and the boys a win for Vision Racing."
PEAK ANTIFREEZE INDY 300 POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone: (About starting from pole): "We made a lot of progress from practice this morning. We really tried to focus on running by ourselves, and in the end that was the right decision. It feels great to win to win the pole in Chicago in front of all my friends and family. Three poles in a season is a great accomplishment for any driver. I'm proud that I was able to do it in my rookie year. Since this ties the rookie pole record, you can bet I'll be shooting for my fourth pole."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, qualified third): ""We're not sure what happened. I had a decent first lap, but I think going into the second lap, we maybe ran out of fuel. We'll go back and have a look at the data. I'm sure it won't affect us too much for tomorrow in the race for sure. This is a good track, and the package we have in our Pennzoil Chevy should show well here, so we'll see."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I'm happy with our starting position, and I think we should be in good shape for tomorrow. We decided to change the gears during both practice sessions, so we didn't have as much track time as we would've liked. In spite of this, we still ended up with a solid qualifying result. Tomorrow will be a tough day, but you can pretty much win it from anywhere you start so I think we have a great shot at bringing the car home near the front. The Marlboro Team Penske car was performing well in traffic today, which will be important for the race. Pit stops will also be key and my crew has done a great job all year getting me in and out quickly."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "We didn't get everything we wanted to out of our qualifying run. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car definitely had a little bit too much understeer and that cost us. It's so competitive out here that you've got to gamble a little bit, but we have a relatively good race car, so hopefully we'll get a good result."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "The XM Satellite Radio car was a little faster in qualifying than we were on our own in practice, so I think we made some improvement there. We're looking forward to the race and are expecting a good result."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 95 Pennzoil/Byrd's/American Sentry Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "I didn't get low on my first lap and I probably should have gone even lower on my second. But the Pennzoil car is good and it's very fast. It's important here to run as low as you can and take the shortest way around the track. I'm sure everybody was rolling the dice with their gears and the times are really close out there. Sometimes it's just a tick between being on pole and starting in the middle of the pack."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "The car was flat out all the way around, and that is all it had. It definitely helps that we tested here last week and the team was able to pick up some additional information. I think we have a good racecar, too. This is a trick track, and the race is always crowded and busy throughout the 200 laps. We haven't had the best luck this year, but the Sonoma race was a confidence builder for the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer team."
The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Presented by Mr. Clean at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 11 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast also will be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Chicagoland 100 on Sept. 11 at Chicagoland Speedway. It will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Sept.15 by ESPN2.