PHOENIX, Saturday, March 18, 2000 -- In January, Mother Nature put Greg Ray on the pole for the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season opener, but his right foot put him on the pole Saturday for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200. Ray squeezed...
PHOENIX, Saturday, March 18, 2000 -- In January, Mother Nature put Greg Ray on the pole for the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season opener, but his right foot put him on the pole Saturday for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200.
Ray squeezed out a fast lap of 20.389 seconds, 176.566 mph in the Conseco-Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone on the 1-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway to earn his first MBNA Pole Award of the season and fifth career pole.
"That was definitely everything we had," Ray said. "We gambled, and I held my breath on the first lap. And I didn't know if that was fast enough, so I held my breath a little more on the second lap."
The race starts at 2 p.m. (MST) and will be televised live on ABC.
Qualifying was canceled by rain at the season opener in January in Orlando, Fla., and the field was established by 1999 Indy Racing car owner points. Ray and car owner John Menard are the defending Indy Racing champions.
Joining Ray on the front row for Sunday's 200-lap race is Mark Dismore in the On Star-GM Buypower-Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Dismore turned a lap of 20.465, 175.910. Dismore's Kelley Racing teammate, Scott Sharp, will start third after a lap of 20.627, 174.529 in the Delphi Automotive Systems-MCI WorldCom Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Robby McGehee will start next to Sharp in row two in the Energizer Advance Formula-Energizer Motorsports G-Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
Rookie Jeret Schroeder rounded out the top five in qualifying in the Armour-Swift-Eckrich Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, a career-best start. Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader Robbie Buhl qualified ninth in the Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Buhl won the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 in January at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando.
"I think this is a top-five car," Buhl said. "I think there is still some left in it. We could do a bit more working in Turns 3 and 4."
Defending MCI WorldCom Indy 200 winner Scott Goodyear will start seventh in the Pennzoil Panther Dallara Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Powered by the only Infiniti Indy engine in the field, Eddie Cheever will line up next to Goodyear in eighth. It will be Cheever's first race for sponsor Excite@Home.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. will start 20th in the Galles ECR Racing Tickets.com Starz Encore Superpak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Rookie Sarah Fisher, making her first start with Walker Racing, qualified 21st in the Walker Racing Cummins Special Riley & Scott/Oldsmobile/Firestone.
MCI WORLDCOM INDY 200 NOTEBOOK
Schedule: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 starts at 2 p.m. (MST) Sunday. Final practice starts at 9:15 a.m.
On the air: The MCI WorldCom Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC at 4 p.m. (EST) Sunday. "Indy Racing 2Day" will be televised live at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2.
The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 3:30 p.m. (EST) Sunday, followed by the live race broadcast at 4 p.m. The area IRRN affiliate is KMVP-AM 860.
The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a partnership between Indy Racing Online and Yahoo!/broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.
Tickets: Tickets for the MCI WorldCom Indy 200 are available by calling (602) 252-2227.