ENGE LEADS FINAL PRACTICE SESSIONS; SCHMIDT CARS SWEEP TOP-THREE STARTING SPOTS IN TEXAS FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 10, 2005 -- Rookie Tomas Enge led both practice sessions as IRL IndyCar Series teams continued preparations for the...
ENGE LEADS FINAL PRACTICE SESSIONS; SCHMIDT CARS SWEEP TOP-THREE STARTING SPOTS IN TEXAS
FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 10, 2005 -- Rookie Tomas Enge led both practice sessions as IRL IndyCar Series teams continued preparations for the Bombardier Learjet 500k at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.
Enge, driver of the No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, recorded a lap of 24.2529 seconds, 215.622 mph in the final practice session before the June 11 race.
The Bombardier Learjet 500k will be televised live by ESPN at 8:30 p.m. (EDT). The race will be shown immediately after ESPN's Original Entertainment special "The Season: Danica Patrick's Race for Indy," which will be telecast at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN.
Also on June 10, Travis Gregg added to his impressive total by recording a quick lap of 187.517 mph (27.9335 seconds) in SWE Race Car Parts qualifying for the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Firestone 100. It was the fourth career pole position and third of the season for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver from Camden, Ohio.
Gregg, who won from the pole in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, led a front-row sweep of Sam Schmidt Motorsports entries -- the sixth time the team has swept the front row in the four-year history of the season.
Chris Festa, driving the No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM car, had a lap of 186.827 mph for a share of the front row. Jaime Camara, another Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver, will start third in the No. 1 CELG -- SSM car (186.753 mph). The teammates also were 1-2-3, though not in the same order, at the race at Phoenix International Raceway in March.
POST INDYCAR SERIES PRACTICE QUOTES:
TOMAS ENGE (No. 2 ROCKSTAR Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm happy, obviously. The car is very good in either groove, and everything is going well, so far. We're just practicing for the big night, which is tomorrow because we need to finish a race. We need to have both cars in one piece at the finish. I don't want to talk about any success yet, because for me success is when I finish the race. I will fight as much as possible. We've had several possibilities this year for a good result, but we had bad luck. Hopefully, this weekend can be when the luck turns around."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We were running full tanks, for sure, trying to catch those Panther cars. It seems they're pretty comfortable out front, but as you know, this race is run in traffic. (About winning the Indianapolis 500): "The Indianapolis 500 is the best race in the world. It's the biggest race in the world. I'm certainly happy to be the Indianapolis 500 champion. I'm just trying to represent like all the past champions. It makes me smile every morning when I get up. When you have the frustrations, like in qualifying here yesterday, it brings a little smile to your face knowing you won that race." (About competitiveness of Bombardier Learjet 500k field): "The thing that the IndyCar Series has is it's been so competitive. We blew NASCAR's numbers up in the last race. You can't sit on your backside. Just because you're the Indianapolis 500 champion you can't think you'll win the rest of the races. There are too many good drivers to think that."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "For sure, things are looking good for us. We're quite happy with the Pennzoil Platinum Chevy today. We know we have a fast car, and there was no need for us to run too much in practice. I wish tomorrow was today because we're ready to go now."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We're not quite where we need to be, so we just need to keep working. It's a challenge because we're practicing in the heat, but we have to account for the fact that tomorrow's race will be much cooler. We'll use the final practice session tonight to try and fine tune the Marlboro Team Penske car, and hopefully we'll be in good shape for the race."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We're not very happy with how the Marlboro Team Penske car ran in the afternoon warm-up. We need to fine-tune our setup and get it where it needs to be by the final practice. We're going to be running in traffic all night so we need a car that is handling well. The race is going to be all about staying with the lead pack, getting to the end and putting ourselves in a position to win."
POST-SWE RACE CAR PARTS POLE QUALIFYING QUOTES:
CHRIS FESTA (No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone), qualified second: "We didn't have the best practice today, but I sat down with my engineer and we decided to try something different with the downforce we were running, and it paid off for the most part. Travis had a little bit on us in qualifying, but qualifying is qualifying. The race is a completely different story, so we're going to put our race setup back on the car. We're pretty confident in it, and we'll go race as hard as we can tomorrow."
JAIME CAMARA (No. 1CELG-Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone), qualified third: "I think it was a fast lap, but there a lot of fast guys out there. It was a good lap. I hope it keeps us up front."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Visit New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone), qualifed fourth: "I'm reasonably happy. I think it's the quickest we've run by ourselves today. It's difficult to tell. I'm reasonably happy. I'm disappointed we aren't on pole because we were the strongest in practice. It was easy to see that, but the race is long. It doesn't matter where you start on a track like this. It all comes down to how you can actually race it. We're confident for the race tomorrow, and we'll be right up in the show."
JAY DRAKE (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone), qualified fifth: "I guess that's about as good as we've run all day. That's all we've got I guess."
JON HERB (No. 6 AERCON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone), did not qualify and will start 11th: "We didn't qualify this afternoon because the motor would have blown up if we tried. (Menards) recommended that we change it instead of trying to qualify on it, so that's what we're doing right now. We'll start at the back, which is unfortunate, but it's a long race and the car was handling pretty good in the last practice after we worked through some issues earlier in the day, so we should be OK in the race. My teammate Jay Drake has really had some good practice speeds, so it will be good to try to catch up to him in order to work with him in the race to move us both up to the top spots."
TRAVIS GREGG (No. 7 Lucas Oil Producs/Sam Schmidt Mspt Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone), SWE Race Car Parts Pole Award winner: "I ran here last year and started second, outside of my teammate Thiago (Medeiros), who won the race and I went on to finish second. Its hard to believe. I'm fortunate enough to have a team like Sam Schmidt Motorsports. They have world-class crew members and equipment. Last year wasn't as dicey. I expect this year is going to be a little more competitive and you should see some two or three wide racing action. I'm looking forward to it. To race at all these tracks that the IRL goes to on the same weekend is hard to believe. Every driver in my series aspires to become an IndyCar Series driver. That's my goal." (About 1-2-3 start): "A 1-2-3 start for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, so we're excited about that. Practice wasn't so great, but it cooled off and we hit the setup right where we needed to be."
The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Bombardier Learjet 500k on June 11 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN at 8:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 "XM Extreme." The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Firestone 100 on June 11 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on June 16.