LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 20, 2001 - Greg Ray returned to his usual strong qualifying form, edging Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. to win the MBNA Pole for the Harrah's Indy 200 with a lap of 199.922 mph...
LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 20, 2001 - Greg Ray returned to his usual strong qualifying form, edging Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. to win the MBNA Pole for the Harrah's Indy 200 with a lap of 199.922 mph July 20 at Nashville Superspeedway.
It was the fourth MBNA Pole of the season for Ray in the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone and the 13th of his Indy Racing career, extending his series record. He qualified an uncharacteristic 10th at the last Indy Racing event, the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on July 8 at Kansas Speedway. Ray has 22 front-row starts during his Indy Racing career.
Ray was one of five drivers to break the 200-mph barrier in the final practice this afternoon on the 1.33-mile concrete oval, but light rain that delayed the start of qualifying by 40 minutes changed conditions.
"The track didn't have quite the same grip," Ray said. "The air's a little muggier. We never got to top gear. We had a pretty good lap there at the end, but we could never get up to top gear.
"We thought we could do exactly what we did in practice if not a little better. The rain definitely changed things for us."
Hornish was second at 199.750 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, tying his career-best starting spot. Hornish led the afternoon practice at 201.037.
The Harrah's Indy 200 starts at 7 p.m. (CDT) Saturday. The race is sold out and will be televised live on ESPN.
Mark Dismore qualified third at 199.239 in the No. 28T Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Billy Boat was a season-best fourth at 199.175 in the No. 98T CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. In fact, it was Boat's best start since winning the pole in July 1999 at Atlanta.
Eddie Cheever Jr. rounded out the top five at 199.100 in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Defending series champion Buddy Lazier was sixth at 198.681 in the No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Lazier is second in the Northern Light Cup standings, 60 points behind Hornish.
Qualifying produced a tight field, as 14 drivers were within a half second of Ray.