IRL: California: Robbie McGehee qualifying report

McGehee will have to come from the back in tomorrow's Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway. FONTANA, Calif., March 23 - Despite an engine change, Cahill Racing's Scottrade Dallara Chevrolet ...

McGehee will have to come from the back in tomorrow's Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway.

FONTANA, Calif., March 23 - Despite an engine change, Cahill Racing's Scottrade Dallara Chevrolet #10 was still down on power during qualifying Saturday morning at California Speedway. Its driver, Robby McGehee, will start in 24th position in tomorrow's Yamaha Indy 400 Indy Racing League event.

The race will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.

McGehee's fastest qualifying lap in the Scottrade/Dollar Rent-a-Car/Double Tree Hotel of Ontario Dallara Chevrolet #10 was run at an average speed of 213.840 mph. The St. Louis native will start on the outside of row 12 tomorrow, beside John de Vries.

The first lap McGehee ever took on this 2-mile D-shaped oval occurred during practice on Friday. The team didn't get many laps in, unfortunately, because it was forced to change an engine Friday afternoon.

"The Scottrade car is handling great; it's just down on power," McGehee said after his qualifying run. "We've been searching for speed since we've been here. The car is very comfortable to drive though, so as long as we keep to our pace and stay out of trouble, we'll be OK in the race. We've pretty much tried everything we know to try to get more speed, and we just don't know what the answer is.

"In the CART races here there's usually a lot of attrition, so I hope for our sake it's the same way tomorrow, provided we're not one of the ones that don't finish, of course," he added with a smile.

"It's an awesome facility, and it's great to be building a base in the California market," he added. "The track is very fast, although it's a little bumpier than I thought it would be.

"I just wish I knew the answer to our speed problem, because the car is great other than that," McGehee concluded. "Everything else is fine; the Firestone Firehawk tires are great and so is everything else. We just need more speed."

After the final practice session here Saturday afternoon, McGehee and the rest of the IRL drivers will stage an autograph session in the garage area. In addition to autograph cards, McGehee will distribute Think First coloring sheets and temporary tatoos to his young fans.

McGehee is a spokesperson for the Think First Foundation, a national organization committed to the prevention of brain and spinal cord injuries and other traumatic injuries through education.

The coloring sheets carry five different messages about safety. They emphasize the use of seat belts and bicycle helmets; playground safety; water safety and gun safety.

This is McGehee and the IRL's first visit to California Speedway, and McGehee is very impressed with the facility and the area.

California is the computer center of the United States, and McGehee is one very computer-savvy IRL driver for half a dozen reasons.

First, his sponsor is Scottrade, Inc. one of the top-10 on-line stock bro kerage firms. It can be found on the Web at www.scottrade.com.

Second, he has a computer science degree from the University of Mississippi.

Third, he owns a computer consulting firm, XRM Research.

Fourth, McGehee is on-line almost as much as he's off. His racing Web site is at www.robbymcgehee.com, and press releases covering his racing activities can also be found at www.restartcommunications.com. In addition, Cahill Racing's Web site is at www.cahillracing.com.

Fifth, when his fans can't be at the track, they follow his efforts through the on-line timing and scoring system that is part of www.indyracing.com.

And sixth, McGehee is a big fan of all sorts of computer and video games. "I have XBox and Playstation 2 and a lot of other ones," he said. "I really like Grand Tourismo III for Playstation II. It's very realistic.

"All of those games help me keep my reflexes sharp," he added.

-ch/lm-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee , John de Vries