IRL: Indy 500: Newman/Haas Racing Pole day report

PacifiCare driver Junqueira to Start Fourth for Indy 500 OVERALL: Rain delayed the first pre-qualifying practice from 8 a.m. CST to 12:30 p.m. Junqueira and the rest of Group 2 began their reduced 40-minute session at 1:10 p.m. Junqueira set...

PacifiCare driver Junqueira to Start Fourth for Indy 500

OVERALL: Rain delayed the first pre-qualifying practice from 8 a.m. CST to 12:30 p.m. Junqueira and the rest of Group 2 began their reduced 40-minute session at 1:10 p.m. Junqueira set the second fastest time in the second group and fourth fastest overall before gearbox failure further limited his practice time. Unlike many other teams, the PacifiCare/Secure Horizons team had yet to work on their qualifying setup until qualifying day. The team fixed the gearbox in time to get in the qualifying line and during his qualifying attempt Junqueira was able to surpass his fastest practice lap to date of 218.999 set on Wednesday, May 12 with a four lap average speed of 221.379 mph.

First Lap: 220.683 mph
Second Lap: 221.542 mph
Third Lap: 221.550 mph
Fourth Lap: 221.742 mph

MBNA POLE WINNER: Buddy Rice 222.024 mph average

Bruno Junqueira, No. 36 PacifiCare/Secure Horizons Honda/G-Force/Firestone: "I think our qualifying effort was good especially because of how late this program came together. The PacifiCare team did a great job with such a small amount of time to get us to this point. We didn't get to work on our qualifying setup until this morning. The rain yesterday really hurt us because that is when we planned to work on it. We worked on it this morning for the first time but then the gearbox broke and we didn't get to finish the already shortened practice session. Until today our fastest lap time had been 218.999 mph so we are really happy to be able to do these laps. We weren't even in the top 20 most of the week. The car wasn't even ideal - it was really loose during my qualifying run. We had too much oversteer and I was almost sideways in Turn 1 on the first timed lap and had to back off. I've never been that sideways on this track in my career. I think I could have run a 222 otherwise. Before qualifying I would have been happy with a top-10 position but I am really happy we could put the lap times together. When I won the pole in 2002 I ran around 800 laps and this year I run near that many (326 laps).

(On chance of winning:) "It's very difficult when you go to a race without as much preparation as others. I'm a race car driver and I want to win. It's no different here but it will be really tough to win. We are in good shape for the race though. We spent all of our time working on our setup for the race because we will be in Mexico next week instead of here. At the beginning of the week we had some problems on the car and ended up not getting much running in. Thursday was the best day for us. Now we have a good race setup. I'm looking forward to concentrating on the race setup tomorrow and coming back on Carburetion Day.

"I have to thank Paul Newman and Carl Haas for letting me come back and race here. I want to thank as well PacifiCare and Honda. When I say that it's not because every driver has to thank their sponsors. It's because they really believed in us enough to help us do this. I love this track. I had one of my best moments of my career here."

* BRUNO'S FAST FACTS: Will be his third race here and first with NHR at this track. Started 20th and finished fifth in his Indy 500 debut with Ganassi Racing in 2001. Won the pole position in 2002 and led the first 32 laps of the race before his engine failed. Retired in 31st place.

* NEWMAN/HAAS RACING INDY FACTS: The 2004 race will mark the 14th for NHR in the Indy 500 and first since 1995. Prior to 2004, the team prepared a total of 20 entries for drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Paul Tracy. NHR's highest finishes in the Indy 500 were second with Mario Andretti in 1985 and Michael Andretti in 1991 and third with Nigel Mansell in his first attempt in 1993...NHR drivers have led a combined total of 773 laps on the famed 2.5-mile Superspeedway (Mario Andretti - 402; Michael Andretti - 337; Nigel Mansell - 34)...Mario Andretti brought the team it's highest start in the event when he won the POLE POSITION in 1987.

* WHO'S WHO AT NHR/INDY: Jim McGee, Director of Special Operations for NHR, is in charge of the Indy 500 program. He is the winningest manager/chief mechanic with a total of 89 victories; race engineer Tim Wardrop currently holds the record for the fastest practice lap, fastest qualifying lap and fastest four-lap average at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Mark Shambarger is the chief mechanic. He has 20 years of experience in the racing industry. The combined total of experience for NHR's Indy group is: 221 years of racing experience, 125 Indy 500's and 26 Indy 500 victories. A complete list of team employees is available that includes hometowns and history for each member.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Paul Newman , Buddy Rice , Carl Haas
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing