IRL: Phoenix: Chevy qualifying report

Castroneves Puts Chevy on Phoenix Pole PHOENIX, March 16, 2002 -- Chevrolet enjoyed a day in the sun in the Arizona desert today as Chevy Indy V8 engines swept the first two rows in qualifying for Sunday's Indy Racing League Bombardier ATV...

Castroneves Puts Chevy on Phoenix Pole

PHOENIX, March 16, 2002 -- Chevrolet enjoyed a day in the sun in the Arizona desert today as Chevy Indy V8 engines swept the first two rows in qualifying for Sunday's Indy Racing League Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Chevy powered the polewinner for the second consecutive IRL event as Helio Castroneves circled the one-mile oval at 179.888 mph in Marlboro Team Penske's Chevrolet Dallara, a record speed for naturally aspirated IRL cars at PIR.

"I believe that was as fast as I could go," said Castroneves after capturing his first IRL pole. "The car was very solid in the rear, very solid in the front. I hope that we can keep the same speed for the race. On a one-mile oval, you have to have a fantastic car in the traffic."

Qualifying was completed under brilliant blue skies and balmy breezes in the Valley of the Sun. Sam Hornish Jr., winner of the season-opening race in Miami, will start alongside Castroneves with a 179.735 mph qualifying speed in Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara. Jeff Ward was third quickest in Ganassi Racing's Chevrolet G-Force at 178.602 mph, and Felipe Giaffone, last season's Chevy Rookie of the Year, was fourth at 178.083 mph.

The seven fastest qualifiers all bettered the 177.633 mph speed record set last year by Greg Ray. Twenty-two of the 26 entries for the 200-lap/200-mile race are using Chevrolet engines.

"I probably could have been a little bit better," said Hornish, the defending race and series champion. "I left a little too much going into Turn 1 on the last lap, but it's all about the race. We're trying hard to repeat our victory in Florida.

"The Pennzoil Panther Dallara is always fast, and I'm always confident when I get into this race car," Hornish continued. "We have Chevrolet with us this year, and they're doing an awesome job. At any racetrack you need horsepower; if you don't have a strong motor, you're not going to do well. Chevrolet power has been good for us so far."

A General Motors engine will start on the pole at PIR for the sixth straight year and for the 53rd consecutive IRL race.

"We had a strong start in Miami with a dominant performance by the Chevrolet teams, and we look forward to a repeat performance tomorrow," said GM Racing engineer Dick Amacher. "Phoenix International Raceway is a very challenging track and the wind has been a factor all weekend. The wind affects both the handling of the car and the performance of the motor, but we have worked hard on developing a very flexible engine package that allows the Chevrolet teams and engine builders to adjust to the track and weather conditions. We believe the Chevy Indy V8 will perform very well in traffic, which is certain to be a consideration with 26 cars on a one-mile oval."

Jeff Ward led 29 laps at the preceding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Ganassi Racing's Chevrolet G-Force, and he turned in a strong qualifying performance today with his new team.

"We've never tested here, and the car needed some more front wing," Ward explained. "The car went through the first two turns really well, but in the fourth turn it got blown up the track and I had to get out of the throttle before I hit the wall.

"I'm real happy with the power of the Chevy engine," Ward noted. "Even if you have to lift a little bit, it's got the torque to recover. On this one-mile oval, the G-Force chassis with a Chevy motor is going to be hard to beat."

Starting fourth on the grid, Felipe Giaffone equaled the best qualifying performance of his IRL career in Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing's Chevrolet G-Force.

"We just pushed a little harder and the car was right there," said Giaffone. "If I could have gone faster, it wouldn't have been much faster. For the race we're going to go with some more downforce and change the springs, but it won't be a big adjustment. Horsepower doesn't hurt, but handling is very important here."

The Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 will start at 2 p.m. MST on Sunday, March 17. The 200-lap, 200-mile race will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. EST and broadcast live on the IMS Radio Network.

-chevy-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Jeff Ward , Helio Castroneves , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing