IRL: Gateway: McGehee qualifying report

McGehee qualifies 22nd Saturday at Gateway International Raceway. MADISON, Ill., Aug. 24 - Picking up a ride with the ABC Moving & Storage/Atlas Van Lines/Sam Schmidt Motorsports G-Force Chevy ...

McGehee qualifies 22nd Saturday at Gateway International Raceway.

MADISON, Ill., Aug. 24 - Picking up a ride with the ABC Moving & Storage/Atlas Van Lines/Sam Schmidt Motorsports G-Force Chevy #55 fielded by Treadway and Associates Racing, Robby McGehee qualified 22nd Saturday afternoon for tomorrow's Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway.

The 200-lap race will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. EDT tomorrow on ESPN. Prior to that McGehee will be interviewed by Jack Arute on Indy Racing 2Day, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning at noon ET tomorrow.

McGehee's appearance at this event was made possible by the support of several area businesses and three Indy Racing League team owners: Sam Schmidt, Ray Parsons and Fred Treadway. The companies which made it possible for the popular IRL star to compete at his home track included ABC Moving & Storage, which is an Atlas Van Lines agent; Welsch Heating & Cooling and Lennox; Hardesty Homes; McBride & Son Homes and Compton Roofing. McGehee is a life-long resident of St. Louis, and he has a huge fan following in this area.

The arrangements for McGehee to compete in this race were only made in the last two weeks. Coupled with the fact that this event is only a two-day show, the team wisely decided to concentrate on its race set-ups during the practice sessions Saturday rather than trying to excel in MBNA Qualifications.

McGehee's official speed in qualifying was 168.174 mph.

McGehee will line up beside Eliseo Salazar in row 11 Sunday, right behind the winner of the Kansas City race, Airton Dare. Former Indy 500 winners Eddie Cheever Jr. and Al Unser Jr. will be right ahead of Dare on the outside when Ozzie Smith, the St. Louis Cardinals' newest member of Baseball's Hall of Fame, gives the command for the drivers to start their engines.

McGehee and his team can be heartened by the fact that they have been getting consistently faster in every session. McGehee's fastest lap of 43 in the first practice session Saturday morning was his 38th circuit, which he ran at an average speed of 165.712 mph. His fastest lap in the second practice session was his 31st of 33, when he was clocked at an average speed of 168.124 mph.

"That's all we could squeeze out of the car for qualifying," McGehee said after climbing out of the car after his qualifying run, which was the fourth of 24 run Saturday. "With the lack of time we've been concentrating on our race set-up today, and that's all she had.

"We knew our qualifying time would be down, but hopefully the work we did today will pay off tomorrow during the race," McGehee elaborated. "We're going to put in a fresh Speedway Chevy engine in the car tonight, and hopefully that will help tomorrow too.

"I got a little close to the wall there once on one of the laps, but in qualifying you just hold on and go for it," he added. "If it would have been practice, I would have backed off.

"The car feels good on full tanks; the balance is good. It's fine over the bump in turn three now too; I didn't even feel it really," he said.

McGehee is just glad to be competing at his home track.

"It's great to be back with Treadway, and I have to thank Sam Schmidt and Ray Parsons and all our sponsors for making this happen," he said.

McGehee ran with Treadway-Hubbard Racing in 2000. That year he finished an IRL career-high second to Scott Sharp by 0.59 of a second in an event at Texas Motor Speedway, which was one of the closest margins of victory in IRL history.

-rm/lm-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , Al Unser Jr. , Eliseo Salazar , Scott Sharp , Airton Daré , Sam Schmidt