By David Reininger - motorsport.com Madison, Ill. (August 25, 2001) â€“ Qualifying for Sundayâ€™s Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway was washed out this afternoon forcing Indy Racing League officials to set the field using ...
By David Reininger - motorsport.com
Madison, Ill. (August 25, 2001) – Qualifying for Sunday’s Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway was washed out this afternoon forcing Indy Racing League officials to set the field using entrant’s points.
Sam Hornish, who has led the points battle since winning the first race of the season at Phoenix in March, will start from the pole position in the Pennzoil Panther Dallara.
Starting on the pole “makes it a little easier, at least going into turn one,” said Hornish. “But it still is a long race after that and Buddy (Lazier) is starting second.
Lazier has earned four wins in the last five races in his Tae-Bo Dallara, cutting Hornish’s lead in the championship to 25 points. In the last five races, Lazier has outscored Hornish by 45 points and now stands poised to successfully defend his Indy Racing championship.
“Obviously, we have to finish ahead of Sam,” said Lazier. “We have a 25-point deficit and that’s not much. We’re three races from the end of the season and if we finish ahead of him, we gain points on the championship.
“But there’s a dark horse out there too, Scott Sharp is not out of the question.”
Sharp will start third in the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara.
Sharp is 88 points behind Hornish. Although he’s not mathematically eliminated from being crowned champion, he’ll need his competitor’s to suffer some misfortune.
Sharp, who was fastest in both practice sessions this weekend said, “It would have been nice to qualify today because we definitely had a shot at the pole. Luckily, we’re third in points, so we’re still starting near the front.”
With the field set by entrant points rather than driver points, Eliseo Salazar, now fifth in driver points, will start fourth, just ahead of Billy Boat.
Felipe Giaffone, who is fourth in driver points, will start sixth. Giaffone failed to score points for his team at the Indianapolis 500 when he switched to a car entered for another driver.
With a fifth place or better finish, Giaffone can clinch the Rookie of the Year award this weekend.
Buzz Calkins will start seventh followed by Al Unser Jr., and Eddie Cheever. Airton Dare rounds out the top ten in tomorrow’s starting field.
Live television coverage of the Gateway Indy 250 will be provided by ESPN starting at 1:00 p.m. EDT.
Notes from the Gateway IRL 250 at Gateway International Raceway:
Chris Menninga, who is making his first appearance in the Indy Racing League this weekend, opened some eyes in the garage area this afternoon after averaging 167.827 mph around the 1.25-mile oval. Menninga’s best lap placed him sixth fastest on the day.
Purex Detergent announced today sponsorship of the Dreyer and Reinbold Indy Racing League program through the end of the 2002 season. Dial Soap joins its sister brand, Purex Detergent, as an major associate sponsor of the team’s G Force driven by Robbie Buhl.