By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Sharp Earns Fourth Career Pole Kansas City, Kan. (July 7, 2001) - For the fourth time in his Indy Racing Northern Light Series career Scott Sharp will start from the pole position, leading the field to the...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Sharp Earns Fourth Career Pole
Kansas City, Kan. (July 7, 2001) - For the fourth time in his Indy Racing Northern Light Series career Scott Sharp will start from the pole position, leading the field to the green flag in Sunday's Ameristar Casino Indy 200. Sharp, whose last pole came at the Indianapolis 500 in May, averaged 216.175 mph (25.312.8 seconds) around the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway.
"I was actually pretty surprised that we ran the speed that did," said Sharp, driver of the Oldsmobile-powered Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara. "Right before I got in the car, I spoke to (team owner) Tom Kelley and told him that second or third was probably the best we could do. I really felt that Eddie (Cheever), and his package, had probably a mile an hour on us."
Eddie Cheever will start alongside Sharp after narrowly missing in the pole by .0106 of a second, the second closest pole margin in Indy Racing League history. "We didn't get the pole but there is always tomorrow," said Cheever. "We were a little bit slower than I thought we were going to be. We hit the rev limiter going into turn three, which might have cost us a little bit.
Cheever's front row start marks his best Indy Racing League career start. It also marks the second time an Infiniti-powered car will start on the front row. Robbie Buhl qualified an Infiniti-powered car in the second starting position at Pikes Peak last year.
Despite track temperatures of 140 degrees, Cheever was more concerned with the heats effect on the cars, rather than the drivers. "The track is new, the asphalt is impeccable, and although the track temperature is in excess of 140 degrees, the Firestone tires are doing very well.
"It's going to be a very difficult race. We don't have any data on what the car is going to do or how the track is going to change during the race, so we may have to have a very wide window of operation with the car. It's going to be slippery, it's going to be hot, and there will be cars with handling problems because of those factors."
Starting third, in the Oldsmobile-powered Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara, is Eliseo Salazar. "I'm happy we're in the second row," said Salazar. "I was expecting the track to be a little bit more slick because of the truck race, but it was as good as this morning."
Robbie Buhl placed the second Infiniti-powered car on the outside of the second row with an average speed of 214.951 mph (25.457 seconds).
"It was a little bit short of what we wanted," said Buhl, who was second on Friday's speed chart. "We would like to run a little quicker because I thought we had a good shot of being up on the front row. Infiniti is making big strides power-wise. Maybe we could have been freed up a little bit more to run quicker. It's all really close. I don't drive the car any differently, I just take what the car and track will give me."
Sam Hornish will start fifth in the Pennzoil Panther Dallara powered by Oldsmobile. Hornish won the first two Indy Racing League events and currently leads the championship standings (269-219) over Buddy Lazier.
Hornish thinks the team will find more speed in the final practice session scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning. "We're still working on it a little bit," said Hornish. "We're not quite where we want to be. We'll try to keep everybody else guessing to see how fast we'll be."
Felipe Giaffone, the fastest rookie in the field, will start sixth, followed by Mark Dismore and Billy Boat. Shigeaki Hattori and Greg Ray round out the top-ten.
At 3:15 p.m., when the first car took to the track for qualifying, the air temperature was 100 degrees with a relative humidity of 44 percent. It was the first time this season that the temperature reached triple digits at the start of an on track session.
A final half hour practice session for the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 will take the green flag at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
Lakeside Speedway, located north of the Kansas Speedway, hosts a USAC doubleheader with Sprint cars and Midgets this weekend. Friday's preliminary events were won by Dave Darland in the midget race and Tony Elliott in the sprint division. Interested spectators at Lakeside on Friday night included ABC-TV commentators Bob Jenkins and Larry Rice, as well as pit reporter Jason Preistley.
The Ameristar Indy 200 takes the green flag at noon local time. The Dayton Indy Lights Series race will be held Sunday afternoon after the Indy Racing League event.