Phoenix Saturday report by David Reininger - Motorsport News International Phoenix, AZ (March 27, 1999) - Greg Ray won the pole position for Sunday's MCI WorldCom 200 on the one mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway this afternoon. Ray's ...
Phoenix Saturday report by David Reininger - Motorsport News International
Phoenix, AZ (March 27, 1999) - Greg Ray won the pole position for Sunday's MCI WorldCom 200 on the one mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway this afternoon. Ray's fastest lap, timed at 20.323 / 177.139 mph, is a new track record for the current IRL cars at Phoenix. "Going to the green flag, I always try to put in the hottest lap on the first lap. In case something goes wrong, you have a second lap to try to rebound," said Ray. "But we basically did two laps at identical times. They were both 23.32. In practice this morning we did 23.33 and that's absolutely hanging it out. There's nothing left. You could take me out of the car and the car couldn't go any faster. We're all very pleased that we've been able to extract the maximum out of it."
Mark Dismore will start on the outside of the front row, alongside Greg Ray. Dismore's time was three-tenths of a second off Ray's record setting time. "We came straight out of the box and realized that qualifying was going to be a little bit of a difficulty for us," Dismore said. "With the conditions of the track changing all the time, we didn't think it would be smart to go for the pole. Don't get me wrong, the pole would be nice. But we're having a lot of curveballs thrown at us, so what we worked on was a race car. The car I qualified was a race car, not a qualifying car, so I'm ready to go racing."
Dismore's teammate, Scott Sharp, slipped a bit in qualifying after spending most of the weekend recording some of the fastest laps of each day. "We've had a pretty good weekend," said Sharp. "We've been on top of the charts in every session. This morning we were second in practice. We made a few changes hoping to get a little more speed out of the car and instead slipped a little bit. It's a little unfortunate but it's
Starting third is Scott Goodyear who was just eight one-hundredths of a second off Dismore's time. Goodyear has been consistent all weekend. "We look for a good race tomorrow," said Goodyear. "The car has been strong the last day and a half, especially in traffic. So we think we have a good shot at the win tomorrow.
Since Goodyear's car had been strong all weekend the team decided not to make any major changes prior to qualifying. "We decided not to change gears. We ended up hitting the (rev) limiter going into turn three, because we didn't have the right gear in it. It probably cost us a little bit of time but we're ready for the race."
Roberto Moreno, who hasn't been in an open wheel car since the Milwaukee CART race last year, when he substituted for Christian Fittipaldi, qualified fourth fastest today. "We came here and did a couple of days of testing," said Moreno. "We have our car going quite well. Yesterday we went the wrong way with the set up. But today we came back. We took another tenth and a half off our best time in practice."
Moreno is slated to drive the car through this year's Indy 500. Plans to run Moreno for the full season have yet to be finalized.
Last year's pole sitter, Jeff Ward, qualified fifth this afternoon. Ward is driving for Pagan Racing at Phoenix after driving last season for ISM. With the switch to Pagan Racing comes a switch to a different chassis too, from G Force to Dallara. "With the amount of time I've had in the car, I'm pleased with qualifying fifth, Ward said. "We're doing pretty good. We had a fuel pick up problem and we had to run twenty gallons of fuel in the car instead of eight. That hurt us a little bit with grip and the extra weight. I'll trade last year's pole for a win this year."
Usually on top of the competition in the IRL, both Foyt drivers have struggled all weekend. Kenny Brack qualified 21st while his teammate, Billy Boat, qualified 23rd. "We thought we could pick it up a little bit for qualifying," Boat said. "We lost the handle somewhere. I picked a real bad push in the race car. We're pretty disappointed with that lap, we'll have to come from the back. But we'll just try to be there at the end."
The No. 14 Foyt entry, driven by Kenny Brack, has experienced problems too. "It's been a very hard weekend so far," Brack said. "Hopefully we'll get better and better. The car is starting to work but we're not there yet. We'll wait until tomorrow to see if we have a good race balance. I think we will, but you never know."
The MCI WorldCom 200 gets underway Sunday afternoon at 2:00 local time (4:00 EST). Live television coverage will be provided by the Fox Sports Network.