MADISON, Ill (August 9, 2003)---Qualifying today for the Emerson Indy 250 was not the best of days for Kelley Racing drivers Al Unser Jr. and Scott Sharp. Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi entry, got off to a rocky start in the first practice ...
MADISON, Ill (August 9, 2003)---Qualifying today for the Emerson Indy 250 was not the best of days for Kelley Racing drivers Al Unser Jr. and Scott Sharp. Sharp, driver of the No. 8 Delphi entry, got off to a rocky start in the first practice session this morning when he struck the wall between turns one and two on his 14th lap. Sharp was uninjured and the car suffered moderate damage. Sharp went out in the next session in his back-up car, entry No. 8T.
Despite an all out effort by the Delphi crew to get the car prepared, Sharp wasn't able to find a whole lot of speed and qualified 20th with a speed of 166.809 mph for tomorrow's Emerson Indy 250. Unser Jr., driver of the No. 31 Corteco entry, fared a bit better but he also struggled to find his top speed for qualifying. Unser Jr. ended up 17th in this afternoons qualifying session with a speed of 168.874 mph. Although not the best of day's on the qualifying grid for the Kelley drivers, Unser Jr. has found success before at Gateway, claiming a victory in 2001 after starting eighth and Sharp has a best finish of eighth in 2001 after starting third. Helio Castroneves won today's top qualifying spot with a speed of 175.965 mph, while Kenny Brack was second at 175.777 mph and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top three at 175.674 mph. The green flag for the Emerson Indy 250 will fall tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. CT for the 200-lap event.
Al Unser Jr. -- #31 Corteco/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone
"When we first ran this morning our gearing was a little bit off. I don't know what to say, testing can help that situation but today was just not the greatest day for the Corteco team for qualifying. I've had good events here in the past so hopefully we'll get our race car working well and be able to go out on Sunday and make it count."
Al Unser Jr. Fast Facts
This will be Unser Jr.'s 319th career start and his 46th IRL start.
Unser Jr. is currently sixth in the IndyCar Series points standings with 249 points.
St. Louis Record--In 2002 Unser Jr. started 15th and finished seventh. In 2001, Unser Jr. started eighth and won the race after leading 75 laps. Unser Jr. competed in three previous events at Gateway as a Champ Car competitor in 1997, '98 and '99. His best finish as a Champ Car driver was 12th in 1999.
His victory on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway was his third IndyCar Series victory and his 34th career victory.
Unser Jr. has won two Indianapolis 500's (1992, 1994) and two open-wheel championships (1990, 1994).
Scott Sharp -- #8 Delphi/Dallara/Toyota/Firestone
"It was a rough day for the Delphi team. For one, I've been fighting a fever and early in our first practice session today I crashed. We still don't exactly know why but we've tried to regroup all day. I'm not that pleased with my qualifying run, we ran faster than that in practice. So now we'll have to try and go have a smart day tomorrow and finish a lot higher up."
Scott Sharp Fast Facts
This will be Sharp's 77th career start and his sixth season with Kelley Racing.
St. Louis Record--In 2002, he started 10th and finished 18th. In 2001, Sharp started third and finished eighth.
Sharp is currently in eighth place in the IndyCar Series with 225 points.
Sharp's victory in April at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan was his eighth career victory.