IRL: Indy500: Practice Report 2001 May 11

David Reininger - motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN (May 11, 2001) - Greg Ray continued to show speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, setting the best lap of the day for the second consecutive day. In six practice days at the Speedway, Ray has...

David Reininger - motorsport.com

Indianapolis, IN (May 11, 2001) - Greg Ray continued to show speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, setting the best lap of the day for the second consecutive day. In six practice days at the Speedway, Ray has turned the best lap on four different days. Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore, teammates at the Ft. Wayne-based Kelley Racing, each took a turn sitting atop the day's speed charts.

Ray, who has been baffled in his attempts to bring his primary car above speeds of 220 mph, has used his backup car, the Johns Manville Menard Oldsmobile-powered No 2T Dallara to set all of his speed runs.

"We threw everything but the kitchen sink at that (backup) car, but it didn't help," said Ray.

Ray, who turned his best lap of the event today, acknowledged that one car will always feel a little better than the other, despite the two cars being exactly the same, with the same setup.

Scott Sharp, who still holds the fastest lap of the event, touring the 2.5 mile oval at 226.137 mph on Wednesday, was second fastest today with a lap at 224.715. "It was real hard to get momentum with all the yellows," Sharp said. "Every time something happened, more fluid and oil dry was added to the track. Combine that with winds from the east and west, it was hard to put two fast laps together."

Although cooler temperatures are forecast for the first day of qualifying, Sharp is optimistic about his chances for the pole. "The track conditions will be different tomorrow, but we expect those changes to be better for us."

Eddie Cheever posted a speed of 223.981mph, his personal best to date, placing him third on the day's speed charts. It was Cheever's first appearance in the top-five, and the best speed posted by an Infiniti-powered car.

"We got lost two days ago with some wrong settings, but we made some progress on the car today," said Cheever, driver of the No. 51 Excite@Home Dallara. "I'm not sure we can get the pole. I think that is between Menards and Kelley drivers, but I think the front row is definitely possible. I don't know what the pole speed is going to be, but I think you'll have to be above 220 to avoid being on the bubble."

Arie Luyendyk, who drew the third qualifying position for his primary car, and the last position for his backup, was fourth fastest today with a lap at 223.673 mph. Luyendyk has been very careful not to get a tow on his flying laps allowing his team to get a realistic indication of his potential qualifying speed.

Jeff Ward rounded out the top five on the day using an Oldsmobile engine prepared by the Indianapolis-based Team Menard. Ward's lap at 223.981 mph was his best of the event. "Everything is moving according to Mitch's plan," said Ward, referring to Mitch Davis, his team manager. Ward and Davis were paired at Team Cheever, ISM Racing and Pagan Racing before reuniting at Heritage Motorsports this year.

"This afternoon we ran out of gear, so we'll take care of that tonight and come out running hard tomorrow," said Ward. "Mitch can make this motor do whatever he wants it to do, so I'm confident in my ride tomorrow. We're going for it tomorrow."

Jimmy Vasser was sixth fastest today, followed by Robbie Buhl, and Eliseo Salazar. Buddy Lazier and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-10.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Arie Luyendyk , Mark Dismore , Jimmy Vasser