Ken Losch took the pole for tomorrow's Freedom 100, with a speed of 188.231 mph. Alex Lloyd sits on the outside pole at 188.080 mph. Speeds today, including morning practice with cars towing each other, did not quite match the record pole speed...
Ken Losch took the pole for tomorrow's Freedom 100, with a speed of 188.231 mph. Alex Lloyd sits on the outside pole at 188.080 mph.
Speeds today, including morning practice with cars towing each other, did not quite match the record pole speed of 189.870 mph set by Jaime Camara two years ago. As the day heated and the winds picked up, everyone's speed dropped off. Losch's secret was that his team kept up with changing conditions.
"We did a few things to the car to make it a little bit sharper," Losch said. "It's getting a little hotter, so it's getting a less grip out there so we made a few changes and it worked perfectly. We're going to have to come back out here this afternoon and do a practice run. Throw on some old tires from this morning and play with that. We don't want the car to come off at the end of the race."
Losch is happy not only for the pole accomplishment, but for the advantage it provides in the race.
"As long as we're out front we're likely to miss any mishaps that might happen," he said. "Being out front is a little safer. That'll add to my confidence. It's tough when you're midway or near the end. You've always got some issues happening. If you're up front you've got a little better chance of staying in a safe zone."
Changing conditions also posed problems for Lloyd. But, like pole sitter Losch, his team worked with the changes and attained a time almost as good as his first practice.
"I was pretty pleased with our qualifying run, to be honest with you," Lloyd said. "We really struggled during the day. Qualifying sims in session two were a long way off. Conditions changed so drastically from when we were here on April 27. It was a 60 or 70 degree day, and here we are in the mid to high 80s. It's changed a lot. Not really caught us off guard, but it was a lot different than we were expecting. But all credit to the team; they put a great setup on the car. We went out there and we did a good job. We didn't have enough, unfortunately.
"We were very quick lap one, but lap two we lost a little bit. We had a bit of understeer. But all in all we're very happy. We're on the front row. It's obviously not the number one spot, but I think a lot of people found difficulty today in the conditions. So I'm happy we got it all together and were able to pull it all together.
The second row was filled by Mike Potekhen and Hideki Mutoh, at 187.686 mph and 187.534 mph, respectively.
"It was a good run," Potekhen said. "My teammate (Losch) got me by just a tick there. Our cars are great in traffic, and they're good by themselves. The team has been doing their homework. The cars were both brand new coming into this year, and to be honest we were behind the eight ball coming into the first race. We've had some time over the last couple of months to get the body work to fit better and get the crew a little more organized, and I think it showed by our performance today. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Mutoh, who led the speed charts in morning practice, was a victim of the changing conditions.
"It wasn't too well," he said. "I wanted to really hold the pole position. It was a little disappointing." Ever the gentleman, he made no excuses about strategy. "We were running a qualifying setup." Ever the racer, he came back to top the speed charts in the final practice later this afternoon.
Last year's winner, Wade Cunningham, at 187.341 mph and rookie Logan Gomez, at 187.016 mph, rounded out the top six.
"It was solid," Cunningham said. "We knew that there wasn't 2 more miles an hour to go. I think we left a little bit on the table. We know that time's not good enough for the pole. It's just not."
Gomez, a local boy from Crown Point Indiana, was happy with his car, his qualifying result, and being at the Speedway.
"The car felt real good," he said. "The team did a great job of putting it together, getting me real confident with the car and setup. We were pretty quick in practice, and I am glad we could back it up with a good qualifying position.
"It's an honor to be here and raced on this at such a young age. Hopefully I have quite a few supporters from Indiana behind me and should put on a good show."
This morning's practice sessions were marred by two wall contact incidents. The first was when rookie Marc Williams made light contact with the SAFER barrier in turn 3. He continued to the pit lane. "It wasn't too bad," he said. "It was just a couple of wishbones. Not too bad at all. It started pushing slowly, and just brushed the wall."
The second was when Chris Festa did a half spin entering pit lane, making light contact with the outside wall on the front straight. The incident left him with left side suspension damage and a flat right rear tire.
"Nothing, really," Festa said about the incident and damage, "just a couple of suspension pieces. We had a brake failure, which caused one of the wheels to lock up as we were coming into the pits. I was barely touching the brakes. We got it sorted out and got the car back together, and it was fine."
Both Williams and Festa took times and qualified for tomorrow's race.
The final practice session was marred by one contact incident. Brad Jaeger did a 3/4 spin in turn 1, contacting the outside wall with the left front suspension and nose cone. Stephen Simpson spun to avoid, with no wall contact. Both cars came to rest in the south short chute. Jaeger climbed from his car unassisted. Both drivers are expected to start tomorrow's race.
The Freedom 100 will take the green at 12:30 pm EST tomorrow. It will be telecast on a same-day tape delay on ESPN2 at 4:00 pm EST.