IRL: Phoenix: Chevy qualifying report

Scheckter Top Chevy Qualifier In Phoenix PHOENIX, March 20, 2004 - A record-breaking spring heat wave, a reconfigured track and a new low-downforce aerodynamic package presented the five Chevrolet drivers in the IRL IndyCar Series with a ...

Scheckter Top Chevy Qualifier In Phoenix

PHOENIX, March 20, 2004 - A record-breaking spring heat wave, a reconfigured track and a new low-downforce aerodynamic package presented the five Chevrolet drivers in the IRL IndyCar Series with a difficult challenge in the Arizona desert. As the track temperature hit 118 degrees, Tomas Scheckter was the fastest of the quintet of Chevy-powered qualifiers at Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday's Copper World Indy 200. Scheckter qualified eighth on the grid at 172.095 mph in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. Scheckter's teammate, Mark Taylor, was 15th at 169.555 mph. Red Bull Cheever Racing teammates Ed Carpenter and Alex Barron qualified 16th and 17th respectively, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing co-owner and driver Robbie Buhl was 20th.

Andretti-Green Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan qualified on the front row in a pair of Honda Dallaras.

"We have a good race car and that's what I'm concerned about," said Scheckter after qualifying for his second race with the Panther Racing team. "I'm happy with today's laps.

"We were quick with yesterday's race setup and didn't work too much on qualifying," Scheckter noted. "We didn't get it exactly right. Phoenix isn't one of my favorite tracks, so if we get a good result in the race I'll be happy with that. We need to make sure that we get our gears right and judge the race pace correctly. The Panther team, in combination with Chevrolet, have looked for these things and they'll make sure we're prepared for whatever develops."

Rookie Mark Taylor will begin the first short-track race of his IndyCar Series career from 15th on the starting grid. He qualified the Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara at 169.555 mph.

"With the reduction in downforce it's made it a tough track to drive," Taylor said. "With the temperature over 90 degrees it makes it really slippery out there. Compared to testing it's quite a bit different. I would have like to have gone quicker in qualifying but you're never quite sure what it's going to be like out there. I think we have a good race car for the heat so I'm happy."

Rookie Ed Carpenter was the quicker of the two Cheever Racing Chevrolet Dallaras by .035 seconds.

"I was able to stay flat in Turns 3 and 4 until way late in the corner," Carpenter reported. "Then I was pointed right at the wall and had to lift a little coming off of Turn 4. That's the fastest point of the track, so if you have to lift at all it kills your momentum.

"We do have a really good race car," Carpenter continued. "That's what we've worked on the whole time we've been here. Yesterday in practice with our long runs we had a really consistent race car. It's going to be so hot in the race that whoever can keep a consistent car will be up front tomorrow."

"I ran into Turn 1 hard to try to get a good time and had some understeer," said Barron. "Unfortunately it just didn't work out for us. We missed the setup for qualifying with the heat so we have to work on our race setup now."

The Dreyer & Reinbold team worked overtime to prepare for today's qualifying session.

"We've been playing catch-up since yesterday," Buhl conceded. "Our car is better, but we missed all day yesterday and this morning we brushed the wall. It's tough conditions and we have to keep working on our race car. With what our downforce package is and what the heat is, you're going to have a lot of movement from the car."

The Copper World Indy 200 will get the green flag at 4:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 21. The 200-lap, 200-mile race will be televised live on ABC and broadcast on the IMS Radio Network.

-gm-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Robbie Buhl , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing