By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Fort Worth, Tex. (June 7, 2001) - Mark Dismore led the pair of Kelley Racing cars in qualifying for Saturday night's Casino Magic 500. Kelley Racing teammates, Dismore and Scott Sharp, whose cars are powered...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Fort Worth, Tex. (June 7, 2001) - Mark Dismore led the pair of Kelley Racing cars in qualifying for Saturday night's Casino Magic 500. Kelley Racing teammates, Dismore and Scott Sharp, whose cars are powered by Ilmor prepared Oldsmobile engines, were the only two cars with speeds over 215 mph.
Dismore, who turned a total of ten laps in practice, still managed to set the fastest lap of the session, with a speed of 215.098 mph. "Realistically, we did about three hot laps," said Dismore.
Dismore attempted to return to the track after making his first run, but the motor started smoking. "We fired it up to go out and it started smoking. The guys had to change a motor. Fortunately, it rained and that gave us some time."
Rain late in the afternoon washed out the second practice session. With thirty minutes of practice prior to qualifying, most teams never had the opportunity to simulate qualifying.
"We came here with the setup we knew worked well and we were really close right off," Dismore said. After the motor change, "they made a gear change, and a shock change to the rear of the car, went out and qualified it, and we just got lucky. Everyone in the garage area tonight was guessing and we were the ones that guessed best.
This is the third time Dismore and Sharp have started first and second, respectively. They started one-two at Dover in July 1999 and here at Texas in June 1999.
"We had a good day with the Delphi car," said Sharp. "We didn't have the car quite like we wanted this morning, in the first practice session. But obviously we still ran pretty good."
Despite setting the third fastest lap in the practice session, Sharp decided to make a lot of changes to the car for qualifying. "With the rain, and not having a practice session, it was all a bit of gamble. We changed our gears, we changed our front wing, we changed our springs, we changed some other pieces of our suspension, so we weren't sure how it was all going to work. It turned out well, and we're pretty pleased."
The mile and a half high-banked track at Texas has produced some of the best racing in the Indy Racing League. In last year's Casino Magic 500, Scott Sharp started in the back of the pack, yet he still held off Robby McGehee for the victory, winning by a scant .059 of a second.
"Qualifying doesn't mean as much as it does at some of the other places," said Sharp. "The draft plays such a role here, last year, in the fall, we started 24th, and within 15 or 20 laps, I was in the top-five.
"There are guys all the way back in the back of the field that have a chance to do real well. As long as they can keep the throttle down and stay in there all night, they have a chance as much as anybody else. The fans that come out here are going a great show, a lot of action, a lot of side by side running."
"There's not going to be any clear-cut person dominate the race," said Dismore, who won at Texas two years ago. "You can go from first to fifth in one lap, or fifth to first. I hope it's a green race the whole way, with everyone driving their tails off all night."
Eddie Cheever will start third, matching his career best starting position after averaging 214.926 mph around the 1.5-mile speedway. "The Infiniti engine is doing very well," said Cheever. "We spent a lot of time after the Indianapolis 500 taking care of small details, and I think we've taken quite a few pounds of drag out of the car."
Sam Hornish, who leads the Championship points standings, will start fourth. Shigeaki Hattori will start fifth followed by Donnie Beechler, Jeff Ward and Robbie Buhl in eighth.
Practice for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series continues Friday afternoon at 1:45 p.m.