OLDSMOBILE MOTORSPORT REPORT: Saturday, September 25, 1999 Qualifying for Vegas.com 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway 9th of 10 Pep Boys Indy Racing League races
SCHMIDT ROLLS THE DICE, WINS LAS VEGAS POLE
Sam Schmidt Parlays "Home Track Advantage" with Oldsmobile Power to Win First Career IRL Pole; IRL Aurora V8 Rolls to 28th Straight Pole
LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas resident Sam Schmidt and the Treadway Racing Sprint PCS team rolled the dice on a last-minute gear change today and won the pole for Sunday's Vegas.com 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After losing the pole at the preceding race at Pikes Peak International Raceway to Greg Ray on a tiebreaker, Schmidt convincingly claimed the first pole of his IRL career by .045-seconds over Mark Dismore. Schmidt circled the low-banked 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval at 209.465 mph to put Oldsmobile's IRL Aurora V8 on the pole for the 28th consecutive IRL race.
"That last lap, I was on the ragged edge of losing it," said Schmidt, who was runner-up at last year's season finale in Las Vegas to Arie Luyendyk, the driver he succeeded at Treadway Racing. "With the level of competition, that's what you have to do to get a pole.
"We had a big decision to make after the last practice," Schmidt confided. "We were too tall on the gear ratio, and weren't pulling the rpm. We made a change on the ratio and thought we might bang the rev limiter. It made a big difference - a real big difference. That was all the car had - she was skating on ice. We made an engine change late last night and qualified with our race motor. The team made a good call on the gearing.
"If it's really hot tomorrow, this race will be about the reliability and durability of the tires," Schmidt predicted. "I just want to survive the first 150 laps and then go for it. This track is like a big Pikes Peak - you want a motor that's smooth from 9500 rpm to the redline because there isn't much banking to help you out of the corners. The Comptech Oldsmobile motors make good power all the way to 10,000 rpm, so when you get the car pointed straight it pulls all the way down the straightaway."
Mark Dismore will make his fourth front-row start of the season in Kelley Racing's MCI WorldCom Dallara Oldsmobile. "I think the race will be a crap shoot," Dismore laughed. "Last year Arie had such a good car that he drove away from us. It's not about pure speed here - it's about consistency. I look for the race speeds to be 197 to 201. If you can run 202, you'll lap the field.
"You can run flat here for a couple of laps, but after the tires wear a little, you have to lift at both ends of the track," Dismore reported. "I don't have to have the fastest car, I just have to stay on the lead lap and hope the timing is right for a pit stop to get new tires at the end. Except for the speedway wings, it's like Pikes Peak all over again."
Billy Boat set the LVMS absolute track record at 214.567 mph on his pole-winning run last year in A.J. Foyt's Oldsmobile-powered Indy car - a mark set before the reduction in maximum engine speed from 10,500 to 10,000 rpm. Boat qualified ninth this year after struggling in practice, but his teammate Kenny Brack was third fastest at 208.563 mph in his first outing this season in a G-Force chassis.
Points leader Greg Ray will start on the outside of the second row after posting the fourth fastest qualifying speed at 208.365 mph. Scott Goodyear, second in the points race, will start in the row behind Ray after qualifying fifth at 208.325 mph.
Twenty-five of the 26 qualifiers used Oldsmobile engines. The only Infiniti driver in the field qualified 18th at 204.879 mph, more than 4.5 mph off Schmidt's pole-winning pace. The five fastest qualifiers are using IRL Aurora V8 engines from four different builders: Comptech Machine (Schmidt and Dismore); Roush Technologies (Brack); Team Menard (Greg Ray); and Speedway Engine Development (Scott Goodyear).
The Vegas.com 500 will start at 11:30 a.m. PDT on Sunday, September 26. The 208-lap, 312-mile race will be televised live on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. EDT and broadcast on the Indy Racing Radio Network.
VEGAS.COM 500 TOP FIVE QUALIFIERS
Driver Entrant Engine Speed 1. Sam Schmidt Treadway Racing Oldsmobile 209.465 mph 3. Mark Dismore Kelley Racing Oldsmobile 209.100 3. Kenny Brack A.J. Foyt Ent. Oldsmobile 208.583 4. Greg Ray Team Menard Oldsmobile 208.365 5. Scott Goodyear Panther Racing Oldsmobile 208.325