Al Unser, Jr. equals season best qualifying effort to start third; Scott Sharp and Tony Renna disappointed with 16th and 17th starting spots. JOLIET, IL -- SEPTEMBER 6, 2002 -- Al Unser, Jr. equaled his season best qualifying effort in the ...
Al Unser, Jr. equals season best qualifying effort to start third; Scott Sharp and Tony Renna disappointed with 16th and 17th starting spots.
JOLIET, IL -- SEPTEMBER 6, 2002 -- Al Unser, Jr. equaled his season best qualifying effort in the #7 Corteco/Bryant car with a lap of 222.111 MPH/24.6363 seconds putting him third on the grid for Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. His Kelley Racing teammates Scott Sharp and Tony Renna will start their #8 Delphi and #78 Kruse Special/HomeMed 16th and 17th respectively.
Unser, Jr. was fastest in morning practice prior to qualifying and was able to carry that momentum forward to his qualifying run. He went out fifth in the order of 26-car field immediately following Sharp in the order. His lap put him on the pole until the 10th qualifier, Sam Hornish, Jr., won the pole with a lap of 222.867 MPH/24.5528 seconds. Buddy Rice, the last car to qualify, turning 222.349 MPH/24.6100 seconds bumping Unser, Jr. to third.
"What a fabulous car my Corteco/Bryant crew gave me for qualifying today," said Unser, Jr. "Sure, we would have loved to stay on the pole but for the second time this season, we are starting third and it was good luck for us at Texas I know we will have a great car for tomorrow. This track, like Texas, drafting is key. So far in practice, the car has performed great in traffic, we will do some fine tuning in final practice this afternoon and be ready to go tomorrow."
Sharp's lap of 219.884MPH/24.8858 seconds was consistent with the morning practice as was Renna's 219.848 MPH/24.8899 second lap. Since unloading Friday, both teams have struggled finding the necessary speed at the beautiful 1.5-mile track just south of Chicago.
"I don't really know what happened," said Sharp. "We just didn't have the speed we wanted. Hopefully my teammate, Al Unser Jr, will share some of their information with us so we can race well tomorrow for Delphi. I didn't mind going out early, I don't think the track condition or temperature would vary enough for us to wait and qualify at the end. We will work to build some adjustability in the car during final practice and focus on having a good racecar for tomorrow. "
"I feel our qualifying Kruse/HomeMed Special car wasn't too bad considering the way practice went today with our lower speeds," explained Renna. " There are few notches we need to fix before the race begins tomorrow, and I think we will be able to do so at the final practice today. But Kelley Racing is a top-flight team and they always give me what I need for race day. Having the qualifications early this morning was good because the track conditions were perfect and not to hot or slippery. We were down on our straight-line speed but as I said I know my Kruse/HomeMed Special crew will do what they need to do to give me a faster car tomorrow, and we will be ready to race a good hard race."