Robby McGehee #55 Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone Mall.com 500 Qualifying Report -- Saturday, Oct. 16, 1999 Round 10 of 10 on the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League
Robby McGehee and the #55 Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone entry will start 14th on the grid in tomorrow's Mall.com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the season finale of the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League. McGehee toured the 1.5-mile tri-oval in 24.546 seconds (an average of 213.395 mph) in today's qualifying session. The 1999 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year currently leads the season-long Rookie of the Year points standings. His closest rookie competitor, Scott Harrington, is one point behind and qualified eighth today. The green flag falls at 1 p.m. CDT Sunday, with a tape-delayed ABC-TV broadcast set to begin at 4 p.m. EDT.
ROBBY McGEHEE -- "The car is feeling very comfortable, which is what you want on race day. The last time we were here (in June), we had a great race car. So if we're anywhere near where we were then, then hopefully we can end up with a top five or a top three finish and wrap up this Rookie of the Year thing. It's somewhat of a mystery what the weather will mean for us tomorrow. We know it'll be a lot cooler, so that'll be good for the tires, and the engines will definitely run better. But that'll be the same for everybody. It's just a matter of going out there and being careful, staying out of trouble, and being there at the end. I've got to say this Energizer Motorsports crew has done a fantastic job all year for us to even be in the position (leading the Rookie of the Year standings by one point over Scott Harrington coming into this weekend). We missed three races, but we've hung tough and have been finishing strong the last several events. We're hoping it'll be business as usual tomorrow."
DAVE CONTI (Chief Engineer) -- "We're about where I thought we would be. We've never been that stellar in qualifying. But, as usual, I definitely think we have a good car for the race. The last time, we were running strong, and even made it all the way up to second from the back of the pack. But we overshot our pit stall on our first stop and it cost us several laps. Then a wheel bearing problem late in the race cost us another position or two. Hey, we'll be alright. I think we have a car capable of finishing in the top five."
STEVE FRIED UPDATE -- Crew chief Steve Fried, critically injured in a pit accident at this year's Indy 500, hopes to complete his return to action by working over the wall on pit stops as the team's left-front-tire changer. He'll make his final decision when the team practices pit stops on Sunday morning. "If I feel 100%, I'm going to do it," Fried said. "But if I'm anything less than 100%, I won't do it. Robby's finishing position is way more important."
PLOPPING DOWN ON THE RAMS' BANDWAGON -- Like most of the rest of his fellow St. Louisans, the 26-year-old McGehee is caught up in the frenzy stirred by the surprings 4-0 start of the local National Football League team, the St. Louis Rams. The 26-year-old McGehee came to Texas Motor Speedway armed with an assortment of Rams' decals, which he promptly had his crew promptly apply to his #55 Energizer Advanced Formula Indy car. "I won't claim to have been a die-hard Rams' fan before they got good this year. But, hey, they're hot right now and they're the hometown team. If nothing else, maybe this will get me into a luxury suite at the Trans World Dome before the season's over!"