Bell Rings up top Chevy Qualifying Speed in Chicago JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 11, 2004 - Townsend Bell was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver in qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway for Sunday's Delphi Indy 300, the 14th race of the IRL IndyCar Series.
Bell Rings up top Chevy Qualifying Speed in Chicago
JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 11, 2004 - Townsend Bell was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver in qualifying at Chicagoland Speedway for Sunday's Delphi Indy 300, the 14th race of the IRL IndyCar Series. Bell will start Panther Racing's Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet from the 12th spot on the grid with a 212.083 mph qualifying speed. Helio Castroneves won the pole in a Toyota Dallara with a 214.759 mph lap.
Bell and five other drivers will take the green flag with Chevy Indy V-8 engines at the start of the 200-lap, 300-mile race. Red Bull Cheever Racing teammates Alex Barron and Ed Carpenter qualified 15th and 16th respectively with identical 211.325 mph speeds. Felipe Giaffone qualified 18th at 210.543 mph in the Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet Dallara and Jaques Lazier was 20th in Patrick Racing's Chevrolet Dallara at 209.288 mph. Tomas Scheckter, Bell's Panther Racing teammate, did not make a qualifying run and will start from the back of the 22-car field per IRL rules.
"I feel good, we have a great setup and we haven't changed much since we started," said Bell. "We had a new Chevy engine in today and it seemed to work well. It was a good solid race car and it should be fun tomorrow."
Barron and Carpenter turned identical lap times at 25.8938 seconds.
"The cars are the same, so theoretically we should run the same lap times," Carpenter noted. "I wish we were both faster but we had a really good race car when we were working on the race setup. Qualifying doesn't mean everything at these 1 1/2 mile tracks as long as you have a car that can draft and stay up front."
Barron agreed: "It was a good run," he said. "We duplicated what we did in practice, and made one small change that worked out. The car is really free so I had to be careful initially when getting the tires up to temperature, but that's what you need at a place like this."
Warm temperatures aided the cars today by decreasing downforce and drag from this morning's practice session.
"This morning we were a little lost because we were expecting to go a little faster," Giaffone explained. "We changed the gears and apparently the heat freed up the car and we're back where we should be. We had a really good day yesterday and the car was handling very good in traffic. Hopefully we can run with the pack and get a good result."
After strong runs in the two preceding races on short tracks, the Patrick Racing team is adjusting to the demands of a speedway.
"To be honest, we're a little disappointed because we felt we were quicker yesterday," said Lazier. "I don't think we got the gears quite right, but we've been focusing on our race setup. We can pull up to people, we can go high, we can go low, we can go just about anywhere we want to. We were hoping we could get a little more out of it today, but we're really looking forward to tomorrow. That's the day that really matters."
Scheckter's starting position at the back of the grid ensures an exciting start as the South African makes one of his trademark charges to the front.
"During the morning practice today, we found a little problem in the engine," Scheckter explained. "Rather than damage it, we wanted to play it safe and decided to change it out. That way we can run the race motor in the last practice session this afternoon, and we can be a lot stronger tomorrow. The Pennzoil Panther car will be great tomorrow and we'll work our way to the front again."
The Delphi Indy 300 will start at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, September 12. The race will be televised live on ABC.