IRL: Schroeder Texas qualifying

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 14 - The battle for the $50,000 Racesearch.com Rookie of the Year award for 2000 in the Indy Racing Northern Light series grew even more dramatic during MBNA qualifying Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 14 - The battle for the $50,000 Racesearch.com Rookie of the Year award for 2000 in the Indy Racing Northern Light series grew even more dramatic during MBNA qualifying Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway after the five rookies still eligible for the award - including Vineland, N.J.'s Jeret Schroeder - qualified within seven positions of each other for Sunday afternoon's Excite 500. Schroeder, who has led the rookie point standings almost all year, qualified 14th. His fastest of two laps around the oval, which technically is 1.455-mile long rather than 1.5 mile, was done at an average speed of 210.928 mph in the Kroger/Tristarmall.com Dallara Aurora #6. He'll start outside row seven beside rookie rival Sarah Fisher when the 208-lap race is televised at 4 p.m. EDT on ABC. His fastest lap was his second one; his first circuit was at 210.117 mph. Fisher was just a blink faster than Schroeder in qualifying to lead the rookie title contenders, qualifying 13th at 210.971 mph. Shigeaki Hattori recorded a top speed identical to Schroeder's at 210.928 mph for 15th. Veterans Donnie Beechler and Buzz Calkins will line up next before the two other rookie title contenders, Sam Hornish Jr. in 18th and Airton Dare in 19th. Dare's car failed the pre-qualifying technical inspection so he only got one qualifying lap. Schroeder's teammate for this race, Zak Morioka, qualified 25th in the 27-car field for both his first Indy Racing Northern Light event and his first race at Texas Motor Speedway. Greg Ray won the pole; his fastest lap was at an average speed of 215.352 mph. Schroeder was a little faster in practice Saturday morning, when his best lap of 41 was run at an average speed of 211.586 mph. On Friday his best lap was at 212.987 mph. According to Firestone engineers, the wind was at 6 mph during qualifying; the temperature was 79 and the relative humidity was 90 percent. "The car seems to be handling really well, but we're off the pace a bit," Schroeder said after climbing out of his white and blue car. "We had a problem in practice with the rev limiter; it was coming on a little earlier than it's supposed to. That seems to be fixed, but we're still a little slower than we thought we'd be so we still must have a problem with it. "We have a great-handling car; it's not scrubbing speed anywhere. We're all scratching our heads on the speed. We were in the top six the last time we were here, so I thought we'd be somewhere around there again this time. "It's a long race though, so I'm just going to go out and run laps and try to finish the race tomorrow," he concluded. "If everything goes well I think we have a good shot at Rookie of the Year."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Jeret Schroeder , Donnie Beechler , Sam Hornish Jr.