FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 10, 2003 - For the second straight race, Vitor Meira set the pace for the seven Chevy-powered entries in the season-ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Meira, who won the pole and finished third last year in the...
FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 10, 2003 - For the second straight race, Vitor Meira set the pace for the seven Chevy-powered entries in the season-ending Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Meira, who won the pole and finished third last year in the season finale, will start sixth on the grid after a 221.860 mph qualifying run in Team Menard's Johns Manville Chevrolet Dallara. Gil de Ferran won the pole in a Toyota Dallara at 222.864 mph.
Robbie Buhl was the second Chevy driver in the top-10 qualifiers, tenth in his Purex/Aventis Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara at 220.785 mph. Championship contender Sam Hornish Jr. will start Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara from the 12th spot on the grid with a 220.443 mph qualifying speed.
"We've had the quickest Chevy several times before in qualifying, but we haven't produced the results we hoped for in the race," said Meira. "There are five drivers ahead of us tonight, so it's still not perfect. This team deserves better results, and we've been concentrating on the race, not on qualifying. I'm sure it's going to pay off on Sunday, and we'll be there. A top-three finish would be a really good way to end the season."
Buhl had the last spot in the qualifying order, and took advantage of the cooler conditions after sundown.
"We were late in the draw, and we hoped that would be an advantage," said Buhl. "We raised the car to the maximum ride height so we wouldn't have any extra drag. I was on the rev limiter hard, so I think we could have done a little more. We've had a good race car in the last couple of races on superspeedways, but I'd like to find more speed running by myself. The handling is very good."
On Sunday Sam Hornish Jr. will make his bid for a third straight IRL championhship and a third straight victory in the season finale.
"It pays 10 grand to win the pole, but it pays $1 million (for the championship) or $100,000 to win the race," said Hornish. "We generally don't qualify very well, so I'm not worried about it.
"We'll just do our thing, stay out of trouble, and have good pit stops on Sunday," he asserted. "Starting 12th could be a blessing in disguise because you never know what can happen on the first lap. The conditions are going to be totally different on Sunday. I'm ready."
Alex Barron was 14th on the list of qualifiers in Red Bull Cheever Racing's Chevrolet Dallara at 219.677 mph.
"We thought we'd be better than that," said Barron. "We knew the conditions would be slower, but thought we had a little more speed in the car. The primary goal is to have a good car on Sunday. We didn't have a realistic shot at the pole, so we're working on having a good race car in traffic."
ESPN will televise the Chevy 500 live at 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 12. The 200-lap, 300-mile will be broadcast on the IMS Radio Network.