IRL: Firestone Kentucky qualifying report

For the second time this season, Kelley Racing teammates Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore rode their Firestone Firehawk tires to a front-row qualifying sweep. Today, it was Sharp who took top honors with a pole-winning lap of 214.596 mph to earn his...

For the second time this season, Kelley Racing teammates Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore rode their Firestone Firehawk tires to a front-row qualifying sweep. Today, it was Sharp who took top honors with a pole-winning lap of 214.596 mph to earn his third pole position of the year. Dismore was second at 213.646 mph. In June at Texas, Dismore won the pole and Sharp was second.

Eddie Cheever (213.200) and Robbie Buhl (212.002) placed the two Infiniti-powered entries on the second row. All 22 cars in the field are competing on Firestone tires, as the tire maker continues its second season as sole supplier to the Indy Racing League, though the series remains open to any manufacturer.

"Our congratulations go to Kelley Racing for another great team effort," said Al Speyer, Motorsports Director at Bridgestone/Firestone. "Scott and Mark both appear to have their cars hooked up for the race. Congratulations are also due to the Infiniti program, which put its only two cars on the second row. It just shows that there's not only great competition here among the teams and drivers, but among engine manufacturers as well. We fondly recall how having a tire rival got our competitive juices flowing, yet Firestone is very proud to be providing tires for every car in tomorrow's race. The tires have been performing well this weekend, exhibiting good wear and grip over the bumps around the track. The fans should be in for another exciting, closely fought battle that we've become accustomed to in the IRL. Let's go racing!"

Scott Sharp, Kelley Racing Dallara/Olds/Firestone: "I was drafting huge in practice to do (214.4 mph). I felt honestly I could run a mid- to high-213 (in qualifying), so I was amazed how fast we ran. The Firestone tires have been great. They've been very consistent for us, providing a lot of grip, and that's a tall order. Everyone really had a lot of uncertainty when we came here. It's a pretty bumpy surface out there, yet the tires are consistently giving great grip. We did a long run yesterday afternoon and were amazed at how long the tires stayed. With this track, with these bumps, with 12 degrees (rear wing angle), no one knows exactly what their car's going to be like 40 or 50 laps into a run, but we're as prepared as anyone else."

Eddie Cheever, Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone: "I'm not really that worried about the race. Our car has always handled well. I think it will come down to consistency. We've always worked on consistency and the Infiniti engine is always a very drivable engine in traffic, especially on the mile-and-a-half ovals. The Firestone tires are performing very well. We've had no problem. It's a little difficult to get the right tire pressure in the car but they seem to be adapting very well to the Kentucky surface. We've done a few full tank runs here and we think tires will not be part of the equation (of concern), which is the way I like my tires to be."

Qualifying session temperature ranges:
87-90 degrees ambient 108-114 degrees track.

-FR

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Scott Sharp